Category Archives: Holidays

Vegan Meringue for Mother’s Day

My mom was not a cook. I got that love from my dad. My mom did enjoy baking, however. Especially pies. I remember my mom always experimenting with different pie recipes. She even made a Mock Apple Pie once made from Ritz crackers instead of apples. Yeah, I don’t get it either, but it was rather tasty if I recall. Mom would mostly make pumpkin pies, but every now and then, although very rarely, she would whip up a lemon meringue pie.

Back then, I wasn’t the biggest fan of lemon meringue, but I just discovered something this week that was kind of mind blowing. Chickpea meringue! If you follow food trends, this is a hot one right now. It’s one of those things that I heard about, but didn’t believe it could possibly be true. So I had to try it for myself. And it was so cool, that I wanted to share it with you.

If you google “Aquafaba” you’ll see a slew of videos and blog posts singing praise to this amazing discovery. A French man named Joel Roessel discovered that you can whip chickpea water (that’s the slimy stuff you get when you drain a can of chickpeas) into a fluffy cream, identical to the texture and firmness of whipped egg whites. WHAT?!?

whipped_aquafaba
Whipped Aquafaba

With Mother’s Day coming up and vegan meringue being the latest trend, I decided to start experimenting. This is just a teaser – I’m working on a healthier lemon meringue pie recipe in honor of mom. 🙂 First run was okay. It tasted great, but the meringue fell when I took it out of the oven. Going to keep tweaking it though!

Lemon_meringue_pie
Lemon meringue pie

In the course of experimentation, I also made (sugar based) meringue cookies, mostly following this recipe from Kelly Paloza (slightly adapted):

Meringue:
1 15 ounce can chickpeas
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Pour the liquid from the can of chickpeas into the bowl of a stand mixer, or use electric hand mixers. Add the cream of tartar. Whip the bean juice with the whisk attachment at high speed until it starts to thicken. Gradually add the sugar and vanilla and continue whipping. This process took me about 5-7 minutes, but it could take up to 15 or 20 minutes.

2. It’s done when the mixture reaches the consistency of thick whipped cream, and stays on a spoon when you hold it upside down.

3. Pipe the cream onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 210 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until firm and very, very lightly browned on top.

meringue_cookies
Meringue Cookies

 

Now that you’re intrigued, start saving your chickpea water (aquafaba), dust off your stand mixer with whisk attachment, or your hand mixer, and get playing!  I promise you’ll be as impressed as I was.  I’m still experimenting and playing around with new recipes that I can’t wait to share.

If you do some playing of your own and come up with anything you’d love to share, email me and I’d love to feature your recipe in my blog and/or next newsletter!

 

Vegan Sweet Potato Kugel for Passover

Friday begins Passover, a Jewish holiday that commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.

I grew up in a half Jewish household, on my dad’s side. What this pretty much means is that we didn’t really celebrate any of the religious aspects of holidays, but we sure embraced much of the food. When Passover rolled around, there were certain items we’d have on hand, as well as dishes that my dad liked to prepare.

For starters, we ALWAYS had Matzo on hand. My family loved Matzo so much, that my parents would even stock up on it when it went on sale after Passover. I don’t even know if I’d be exaggerating to say that we’d still be eating Matzo all the way through Hanukkah.

Another favorite Passover item that could be found in our pantry, (and in the pantry of my Catholic grandmother and great Aunt who were probably getting in touch with their formerly Jewish “Cohen” roots) was macaroons. Man, did I love eating those Manischewitz macaroons. The ones with the tiny chocolate chips were my favorite.

I also loved chugging on Kedem Grape Juice.  The flavor is so much richer and sweeter than any other grape juice I’ve ever had. It is way too intense for me now to have any more than a sip, but as a kid, I couldn’t get enough of that stuff.

When I was in my 20s, I finally experienced my first (abbreviated) seder. Having only minimal knowledge of what the celebration of Passover was all about (in that I knew the story, but didn’t know what a seder entailed), I was surprised by how important a role food played in the celebration. The seder includes a Seder Plate containing six symbolic foods that each hold special significance to the retelling of the story of the Exodus from Egypt.

While we never went through the ritual of a seder growing up, I did enjoy a few key Passover dishes that dad cooked up.

With all the matzo hanging around the house, there also came lots of Matzo Brei, which is basically an omelet or scramble made with matzo that has been soaked in water until soft. He also made Matzo Ball Soup, which I’ve since veganized on multiple occasions and remains one of my favorite dishes.

Lastly, I could never resist the sweet smells of raisins and cinnamon that waft out of the oven whenever dad would have a kugel baking. Kugel is a pudding or casserole, traditionally made with egg and noodles. However, on Passover, the noodles are replaced by matzo or another starch.

When my client asked me to make a Passover dinner for his family, I knew that I needed to include a kugel. Scouring the internet for ideas on how to make a vegan, Passover friendly Kugel, I came across a recipe on About.com for a vegan sweet potato kugel that sounded just perfect.  I adapted it ever so slightly, and reduced the quantity of ingredients to make enough to feed a family of four, instead of a small army. Using my food processor to grate the potato and apple made this recipe super quick and easy to make.

Kugel_ready_for_oven

Sweet Potato Kugel 

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated (3 cups)

1 sweet apple, peeled and grated (I used a gala)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup matzo meal

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (reserve some for the top)

1/2 cup water

Kugel_ingredients

Ingredients

Mix all the ingredients together. Press into a baking dish and bake at 375ÂşF until crisp on top, about 45 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of baking, sprinkle the top with the reserved walnuts. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes to settle and cut into pieces more easily.

Sweet_Potato_Kugel

Edible Vegan Holiday Gift Guide

There’s no better way to show someone you care at holiday time than to gift them with something they can eat.  I know edible gifts always make me smile!  Here is a round up of some of my favorite California local sweets and savories; edibles that are good enough to gift. Most of them offer shipping across the US.  Happy Eating Days – er, I mean Holidays!

 

ChocoVivo

chocovivo

This is one of my favorite chocolates of all time. It’s locally sourced, hand-crafted, stone ground chocolate, created onsite in a bean to bar chocolate factory in Culver City. The owner and chocolatier, Patricia, knows her cocoa bean growers directly, and sources all other ingredients that go into the bars and other products directly from the Farmers Markets (many of which she can still be found selling these amazing treats). There’s no milk powder, soy lecithin or additional cacao butter used in ChocoVivo’s chocolates. They use only whole cacao nibs and whole spices that are as close to nature as possible, utilizing tools that are very similar to what was used by the Mayans and Aztecs 2,000 years ago – no refining, no tempering.

The cute packaging and delicate, creative and seasonal flavors make for great gifts for your favorite chocolate lover.  I highly recommend stopping into the shop for a delicious European style drinking chocolate. With a homey and inviting atmosphere, which includes the wafting smells of chocolate, ChocoVivo’s shop is a great location for a girls night out.  It’s where I went with a group of ten girlfriends the Friday before my wedding and we indulged in a chocolate tasting, sampling all of the flavors available!

 

Love Bites

It’s cute, it’s chocolate, it’s handcrafted, it’s delicious. Need I say more? For the holidays, Love Bites is offering special pre-selected collections of four chocolates, with fun names like Classic, Funky, and Fresh.  To learn more about Love Bites Chocolate, check out my recent review.
 LoveBites1

Charlie’s Brownies 

charliesbrownies

Decadent, but good for you. Charlie’s Brownies are baked with high quality ingredients and made with lots of love.  I ran into Charlie at an event the other night, where I had the pleasure of learning more about him and his delicious brownie bites. Not only is he one of the sweetest, most sincere people you’ll ever meet, but his passion for his product is nearly contagious. He spent two years in the kitchen working tirelessly to craft the perfect gluten free vegan, mouthwatering morsel of chocolate.  If only I’d known him when he was in need of taste testers!
Order now and receive FREE shipping for the holidays to anywhere in the United States!

 

Miyoko’s Kitchen

MiyokosKitchen_Header_Slider01

Vegans and non-vegans alike will love these creamy, dreamy cheeses. Trust me on this!  I served them to my very non-vegan family in the days leading up to my wedding and they were all surprised by how much they enjoyed them. By the way, yes, they qualify as cheese because just like their traditional dairy based counterparts, they undergo an aging and ripening process. At least that’s the qualification given by my French cheese expert friend, even if it’s not recognized by the US government. Just order a party platter for your friends and family, and throw one or two in for yourself. You’re gonna want to try all the flavors. It’s a perfect excuse to have a party. I’ve already ordered twice in a one month time frame. I may have a bit of an obsession.

*It looks like the big mixes are sold out right now, but keep checking back as Miyoko always has batches of cultured nut product in the works and they add new items ever few weeks.

Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon

I needed to include something else savory in this vegan holiday gift round up, so of course, I opted for bacon. Not in that “everything’s better with bacon” kind of way because, really, I have never believed that, even before I was vegetarian and I don’t understand why bacon is touted as a food group of its own. It’s disrespectful to all my little piggy friends, if you ask me.  Phoney Baloney’s is added to this gift guide list, because I love savory as much as I love sweet, if not more so, and their products always hit the perfect spot for me. Actually, they even mix savory with sweet in a maple coconut bacon flavor that is to live for. Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon is great to snack on straight out of the bag, or on salads, pizzas, sandwiches, in cupcakes and brownies (just ask Charlie – it’s one of his brownie bites flavors, though I don’t know if he specifically uses PBs or makes his own) and so much more.

I love sending Phoney Baloney’s to friends as a “just cause”, which means it is a perfect stocking stuffer.  My holiday recommendation is to visit one of their online retailers and buy all five flavors.  Then spread some of Miyoko’s Rustic Alpine on slice of toast, add a piece of ChocoVivo’s fig almond, and top the whole thing with a sprinkle of apple fennel coconut bacon.  Yum!

coconut bacon

 

The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories – Cooking Lessons

Lastly, the best gift of all is the one that keeps on giving – the knowledge of how to make delicious treats at home! In other words, a gift certificate for cooking lessons at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica. Conveniently, I’ll be teaching two vegan classes at the beginning of the year on January 24 and February 7.  Check out my events page for more info.

 

 

Know any awesome edible artisan products that you think should be included in this list? Leave your recommendations in the comments below. 

Lentil Mushroom Burger and Green Festival

This morning I was reminded that next week is Labor Day. I remember back in my school days, this would usually mean one more week of summer vacation (or once college rolled around, it meant we were in our first week of classes). These days, my mind goes to food and the winding down of barbecue and burger season. Since Labor Day is always on a Monday, what better way to spend it than supporting a Meatless Monday.

Burgers have been a hot topic for me lately, teaching two sold out Perfect Veggie Burger classes at The Gourmandise School, a private lesson on veggie burger making, and **Drumroll please** an invitation to participate in the Good Food Stage at Los Angeles Green Festival, based on my proposal for a veggie burger cooking demo.

I’ve been attending Green Festival for several years now and have dreamed of presenting there. I’m thrilled to finally see that dream become reality. If you’ve never been to Green Festival, you should plan to attend this year, for sure, as it’s gotten bigger and better. Green Festival, the nation’s largest and longest running sustainability and green living event is now offering three days of thought provoking speakers and presentations, cooking demonstrations and food and product samples galore.

Green Festival begins on Friday, September 12. I’ll be presenting at the Good Food Stage on Sunday, September 14 at 3:30pm.  If you can’t make it to all three days (although I highly recommend you do!), please plan to drop by and say hello during my demonstration.

At just $10, tickets are ridiculously inexpensive for the caliber of information, experience and free food samples (– did I mention the samples? One friend goes just to eat her weight in raw single origin chocolate samples) you’ll receive. Buy your tickets now!

Until then, I leave you with one of my favorite veggie burger recipes that even your omni friends are sure to love.

lentil burgers

Lentil Mushroom Burgers
Makes about 6 burgers, 3 inches across.

Ingredients
Olive oil
1/2 Cup cremini mushrooms, minced
1/4 cup onion, small dice
1 1/4 Cup cooked lentils (about 1/2 cup dry)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce  or tamari
herbs and spices of your choice (ie. Thyme; tarragon; oregano; chipotle powder; chili powder; cumin; coriander)
1/2 Cup cooked brown rice
2 Tablespoons brown rice flour
1 Tablespoon almond flour or breadcrumbs (you may need to add more)
Cooking spray

Directions

1. Heat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Sauté onions until soft and translucent, and just beginning to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add mushrooms and tamari and sauté for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until mushrooms are cooked.

2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mash lentils well, using a fork, or pulse in a food processor. When mushrooms have cooked, add mushroom mixture to the bowl. Add all other ingredients and mix well; it should be smooth with a little texture.

3. Divide burger mix into equal portions. Press into a cookie cutter or use a scooper for uniform size and shape. The number of burgers will depend on the size.

4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray or coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Place burgers a couple of inches apart (leave room for flipping!) and cook for about five minutes on each side, until lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Alternate baking method: 1. Preheat oven to 350 F for baking method. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Spray patties with a little more cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes. Flip burgers and bake for 12 to 15 more minutes, until nicely browned.

vegan potato pancakes for St. Patrick's Day

Spinach Potato Pancakes

As far as I know, I am not even a little bit Irish. However, I did go to college in Boston (Emerson represent!), which is quite possibly the capital of Ireland. I’m making this assumption based on the number of college friends I have that are of Irish descent, and the number of Irish pubs per capita throughout the city. I do not have actual statistics on how many Irish pubs are in and around the city of Boston, but I’m barely exaggerating when I say that every other bar has a name that starts O’ something.

And the Purple Shamrock. We must not forget the Purple Shamrock, a dank, sticky floored restaurant and bar that was a Boston staple for over three decades until its closing in September 2012; a bar, most referenced in college stories as the place we unintentionally abandoned our spirited, innocent, doe eyed, blonde haired friend after two drunken Irish men got into a fist fight over who got to buy her a drink. (Said friend recently started an awesome and hilarious blog called Stuffed Dates chronicling stories of life, love, dating and recipes. Perhaps this store will make an appearance…)

But I digress.

Despite not being Irish, celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day has long been engrained into my personal culture. All things Ireland seem to follow me around. I remember having a crush on an Irish exchange student who was visiting one summer during high school, and subsequent crushes on every cute guy I encountered with an Irish accent.  When I moved in with Jacques (not Irish), it didn’t take long to discover that everyone working at the dive bar right next to our apartment all hailed originally from Ireland. Although they are all older women who have lived here for many years, they still hang on tightly to their accents. We love popping in there just to listen to them talk.

Since I will not be whipping out a green beer this time around (because, really, who knows what kind of nasty chemicals are in those things!), I wanted to celebrate in my own special way. Of course, that means I am celebrating through food. I decided to take a little bit less of a traditional approach, with potatoes, a traditional Irish staple.  With spinach on hand, I had a vision for spinach potato pancakes, mixing a bit of my Jewish roots with my Irish longings. Passover is around the corner, after all.

Spinach Potato Pancakes 

Makes 6 pancakes 3″ in diameter

2 medium potatoes, grated (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Cups packed spinach, blanched, squeezed and chopped
1/4 Cup onion, finely diced
2 Tablespoons chives, minced (optional)
1 flax egg*
1/2 Cup brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons potato starch
1/4 Cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
few dashes black pepper

 

grated potato vegan potato pancakes

Squeeze excess water out of potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice to prevent oxidation.

 

chopped spinach

Add spinach, onion and chives, if using, and mix to combine.

 

egg alternative flax egg
Whisk together 1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons water to create flax egg.

Add flax egg, flour and starch and stir to coat. Drizzle in almond milk and season with salt and pepper. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold everything together until well incorporated.

 

vegan potato pancakes

Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a heavy skillet. Drop potato batter in 1/4 cup portions into the hot oil and flatten lightly with a spatula.

 

vegan potato spinach pancakes

Brown on the first side for about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and brown on the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes. They may need to be flipped again if they have not browned well enough.

 

vegan potato pancakes for St. Patrick's Day
Transfer to a plate and serve immediately with a dollop of vegan sour cream or hot sauce, if desired.

 

 

Spinach Potato Pancakes
Author: 
Cuisine: Irish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 3" patties
 
Ingredients
  • 2 medium potatoes, grated (about 1½ cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Cups packed spinach, blanched, squeezed and chopped
  • ¼ Cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tablespoons chives, minced (optional)
  • 1 flax egg*
  • ½ Cup brown rice flour
  • 2 Tablespoons potato starch
  • ¼ Cup unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • few dashes black pepper
Instructions
  1. Squeeze excess water out of potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with lemon juice to prevent oxidation. Add spinach, onion and chives, if using, and mix to combine.
  2. Add flax egg, flour and starch and stir to coat. Drizzle in almond milk and season with salt and pepper. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold everything together until well incorporated.
  3. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a heavy skillet. Drop potato batter in ¼ cup portions into the hot oil and flatten lightly with a spatula. Brown on the first side for about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and brown on the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes. They may need to be flipped again if they have not browned well enough.
  4. Transfer to a plate and serve immediately with a dollop of vegan sour cream or hot sauce, if desired.

 

 

raw watermelon radish ravioli

Raw Watermelon Radish Ravioli

When I was in culinary school at Bauman College, we didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on raw foods, but the few uncooking sessions we did do really left an impression. It was during my raw foods class that I learned the true magic of food manipulation; the way you could take a vegetable and transform it into something different and special.

Thinking about recipes for Valentine’s Day, I knew I wanted to share something different. I was drawn to the idea of watermelon radish because of its elegant pink hue, perfect to be showcased on a plate intended for love.

watermelon radish

But if you’d rather not buy into all that hokey, commercial V-Day *rap, the inside of a watermelon radish is visually stunning, and they are loaded with health benefits. Radish have been used medicinally since as far back as Ancient China and are chock full of vitamin C and anti-oxidants to combat those free radicals roaming around your body trying to get you sick or diseased.

I came across this popular Chinese proverb that I love –  “Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees.”

What’s especially great about watermelon radish, aside from many of them coming in the perfect size to make ravioli, is that they are less pungent and peppery than other radish varieties. The milder flavor allows for the taste of your filling to shine through and really be enjoyed. In this case, I used an amazingly decadent pine nut and macadamia raw ricotta.

Should you not be convinced that radish can be somewhat sweet and delicious, or you’re just not a big fan, you can substitute. Beets and turnips are the best replacements. You would give them the same treatment as the radish.

Prep the Raw “Pasta”

DSC_2477

To prep the radish for ravioli, thinly slice into rounds using a mandoline or V-slicer to create your “pasta”. You’ll want the slices to be as thin as possible. Place slices in a medium bowl and coat with a few sprinkles of sea salt and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I like to give each slice a little rub to make sure it is fully covered. Allow them to soak while you prepare your filling.

 

Make the Cheese Filling

Nuts_in_processor

Nut Cheese Ricotta

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon pine nuts

1/4 Cup macadamia nuts

1/8 tsp sea salt

1 – 2 cloves garlic

lemon juice, to taste

1/4 cup water, if needed

1 Tablespoon minced parsley, plus more for garnish

Directions

Add nuts, salt and garlic to a food processor or blender. Pulse until fairly smooth, adding water a little at a time, if needed to keep blades moving. You want it to be thick and creamy, not runny. Add lemon juice to taste (I use just a splash, but if you like it tarter, add more) and stir in parsley.

 

Assemble Ravioli 

Raw Ravioli Filling

Remove radish slices from their marinade and lay on a flat surface – a cutting board works great. Add about a teaspoon of cheese to the center of each radish slice.

Now you have two options:

1. You can fold your ravioli over the cheese to create half moons.

folded_ravioli

2. You can layer another slice of radish over the top for full circle ravioli.

I usually opt for the latter.

Arrange ravioli onto individual plates for serving, drizzle with a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of parsley. You may also choose to use a sundried tomato sauce, cashew sauce, or reduced balsamic, if desired. I find the flavors to be complex enough that I like to enjoy it as simply as possible.

Plated_ravioli_2 copy

 

 

Do you plan to make this ravioli? Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? What are you planning to prepare or enjoy with someone you love this weekend? 

Leave a comment below! 

Healthy Dieting Tips for Your New Year’s Resoultion

Happy New Year!

As I sat down to write, I really struggled with what to post.  I knew I wanted my first post of 2014 to be focused on tips for starting the new year on a healthy note, but even up until yesterday, I still wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to go in.

After attempting several drafts, I caught a glimpse of a friend’s facebook status.

She said that she was not making a new year’s resolution. She was not going to list all the things she could do to get thinner, richer, more successful, but instead that she intends to eat more fruits and vegetables and hope the other stuff falls into place.

In reading this, the theme of my post was inspired.

When the new year rolls around, it’s tempting to put pressure on yourself. Maybe you’ve set a new year’s resolution to be better, eat cleaner, get leaner, and in an attempt to do all that, you decide to start with a rigorous diet in order to lose weight fast. The thing is, these types of diets don’t really work. In the process, you may feel increased stress, decreased energy and perhaps, in worst cases even some symptoms of IBS.

Sure, you may drop weight quickly, but chances are you’re going to gain it back, with a little extra, even faster once you stop the diet.

The reason for this is our bodies go into feast or famine mode. When you start fasting or massively reducing your calorie intake, your body thinks that food is not available and starts taking from storage in order to survive. You lose weight and inches, you’re feeling good about your new body, but then the diet ends and you go back to eating the same way you did before. Your body freaks out and starts storing fat, preparing for the possibility of another season of starvation.

On top of the physical reaction, there’s also the emotional aspect to dieting. The problem with calorie restrictive diets is that they are just that – too restrictive. You feel deprived and overwhelmed and you are ready to give up easily. Instead of enjoying food and life, you’re spending all your time counting calories and points.

The best way to get the new year off to the right start, is to set yourself up for success.

My first piece of advice to you is to make it simple, and create attainable intentions, instead of challenging resolutions. My friend had it right when she said she intended to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Change your focus to what you should be doing and eating to be healthy instead of dwelling on the foods you “can’t have.” The simple shift putting your attention on foods that nourish will open up a whole new culinary world.  You can still lose weight by eating delicious foods, and when you’re nourishing and nurturing your body, the rest will follow.

Trust me! I’ve witnessed healthy weight loss. Early last year, Jacques cut out just a few key foods – meat, eggs, dairy and sugar, and increased his fruit and veggie intake. He did this for personal health reasons, but the added, unexpected benefit was dropping about 25 pounds of excess weight.

Want to know the most awesome part about our healthy, plant based, vegan diet?

We’ve both maintained a healthy weight, and a slim physique even though we definitely eat more than we’ve ever eaten in our lives. And it’s not that we’re hungry all the time (I’ve been there when I was suffering with my Crohn’s disease and not absorbing nutrients, but that’s thankfully no longer the case). Plus, our energy is better than it’s been in years and we sleep a heck of a lot better too!

We are able to eat a lot and not gain weight because we’re eating the right foods. We’re not counting our calories and restricting our diets, but instead eating a plethora of fruits and veggies, whole grains and beans. We love enjoying an array of herbs and spices and sampling foods of different ethnic varieties. On a daily basis, we’re eating foods that represent all the colors of the rainbow, We never feel deprived and are never bored of the foods we’re eating.

The same goes for my clients who have food allergies. They have usually come to me at a point where they are so lost as to what to eat that cooking and eating is just not fun anymore. Once they discover a world of foods that are new to them, the deprivation is lifted, and eating becomes an adventure again.

If you’re ready to start 2014 off on the right foot, consider beginning the year with a bit of a whole foods, vegan style detox, or at the very least, resolve to eat more fresh, clean food, load up on fruits and vegetables, and limit or eliminate processed foods.

This way, you are not restricting your body, but instead feeding it with an abundance of nutrients that it needs for peak performance.

To get you started, here’s my guide to stocking your pantry and fridge with healthy, whole foods.

And here’s a list of five foods you’ll want to increase to help ditch the fat and increase the function.

 

Apple

Apple – We all know the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and there is validity to it. Apples are high in fiber, especially the soluble fiber pectin, which improves how well your body eliminates waste, relieving both constipation and diarrhea. Also, because of all the insoluble fiber and the pectin, eating an apple in its whole form helps you to feel full, and satisfies hunger. Studies have also shown that apple consumption is linked to lower risk for asthma, reduced risk of heart disease, and lower cholesterol.

 

celery

Celery – Higher in sodium than most vegetables, adding celery to your foods is a great way to naturally season your food without adding extra salt which helps decrease bloating. It also tones the cardiovascular system, lowers blood pressure and may be useful in treating migraines.

 

dandelion

Dandelion – Great for detoxifying the liver, promoting weight loss, acting as a diuretic and improving blood sugar control. If you did a lot of drinking over the holidays, you definitely want to turn to dandelion tea. Roasted dandelion is a healthy, tasty alternative to coffee. Teechino is my favorite and comes in a variety of delicious flavors.

 

radish

Radish – The bitter radish doesn’t get a whole lot of love, but it really does deserve it. Throughout history, it has been used as a medicinal food to treat liver disorders, and as a member of the cruciferous family, it has lots of cancer fighting properties. Radishes help to increase the flow of bile, which helps maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver, and improves digestion. Improved digestion, of course leads to weight loss and control. Plus there’s the added benefit of lots of vitamin C and calcium. Try different varieties to find the one you like best (ie red, watermelon, easter egg, french, daikon).

 

zucchini

Zucchini – With a water content of 95 percent, zucchini are excellent for weight loss because they are   extremely low in calories. Thinly sliced zucchini makes a great alternative to carb heavy pasta.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is not intended to as medical advice or to replace the recommendations of a health care professional. If you have pre-existing conditions, or are on prescription medications, check with your doctor before trying new foods.

 

 

Photo: www.specialtyproduce.com

top 2013 recipes

Top Recipes of 2013

top 2013 recipes

As we get ready to cap off another year, I am feeling some slight shifts getting ready to happen, both personally and professionally. I spent the better part of this year as a student, obtaining my certification as a health coach, and now that I’m finished with school, am eager to start incorporating even more health and wellness into my business and my life.

I’m also ready to start sharing more personally on this blog. The content may change a little, and have new features, as I continue to work out what I want you to get out of my new website. (I will, of course, still feature vegan and healthy recipes! That’s not changing.)

All that being said, I couldn’t end the year without pulling together a mouthwatering collection of nine of the most popular recipes of 2013. Based on popularity of posts, this was the year of cauliflower, quinoa, patties and all things round (seriously, every recipe listed has some kind of rounded shape!).

Looking at those photos all together, it really does show that healthy vegan eating is fun, delicious, colorful and eclectic!  Plus, all the recipes just happen to be gluten free (or easily adapted), debunking any theory that dietary restrictions are too difficult or restrictive! While some may be a little healthier than others, all are great, better for you alternatives to anything deep fried, breaded, or loaded with artery clogging meat and dairy.

Without further ado, the top nine recipes posted on Veggie Fixation in 2013.

vegan crab cakes 9. Crabby Cakes

 

 

 

 

 

gluten free vegan pumpkin pie8. Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie 

 

 

 

 

 

 

vegan lentil burgers7. Lentil Sausage Patties 

 

 

 

 

 

 

quinoa black bean burgers

6. Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

 

 

 

 

 

 

raw chocolate truffle 5. Raw Sunflower Seed Truffles

 

 

 

 

 

 

vanilla bean mousse tart4. Raw Vanilla Bean Mousse Tart

 

 

 

 

 

sweet potato kale breakfast burrito3. Kale and Sweet Potato Breakfast Burrito

 

 

 

 

 

vegan cauliflower buffalo wings2. Cauliflower Buffalo Wings 

 

 

 

 

 

and the #1 recipe post of 2013…

cauliflower crust pizza1. Cauliflower Crust Pizza

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you made any of these recipes? Are there any not included in this list that was one of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

 

See you in 2014… be safe, be peaceful, be healthy.

 

 

 

Healthy Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Every holiday season, at least one friend hosts a party with a White Elephant gift exchange – an opportunity to re-gift the ridiculous present you received from your well intentioned relative for which you have absolutely no use; and in return, go home with an equally ridiculous item from someone else’s well intentioned relative. On the rare occasion, something useful or fun comes out of these swaps, but more often than not it’s useless items that will just create clutter, until you re-gift again the following year.

Instead of giving something useless, check out this last minute holiday guide for a variety of suggestions for gifts that are good for your health. From spa gift certificates, to nutrition books, to kitchen appliances, you’re sure to find something that’s perfect for your health conscious friend, or someone you’d like to see get a little healthier!

BOOKS

China Study Cookbook
China Study Cookbook

The China Study was one of the most influential health and nutrition books ever published. The China Study Cookbook is a great companion that helps put into practice all the information learned by Dr. T. Colin Campbell.

Super Immunity by Joel Fuhrman
Dr. Joel Fuhrman outlines how to boost your immune system naturally during cold and flu season.

There are natural ways to boost your immune system and Super Immunity is the perfect gift this time of cold and flus. I also love Dr. Fuhrman’s Power Foods for the Brain. The information in both books is well researched, well outlined and easy to follow to make dietary and lifestyle changes for optimal health.

 

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson
Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health

Eating on the Wild Side is a great book about the history of food. All those history and/or nutrition geeks out there will love this one.

 

 APPLIANCES

Beaba Babycook baby food maker
For the new parent: Beaba Babycook baby food maker

With so many unnecessary additives and preservatives in food these days, even baby food, more parents are turning towards making it themselves. Created by a renowned French company, Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker makes the task of homemade food simple and convenient with its all in one capabilities. It does everything from steaming to pureeing to warming and defrosting.

Breville Juice Fountain Plus
Breville Juice Fountain Plus: Endorsed by Joe Cross from the documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”

The Breville Juice Fountain Plus is a great middle of the road juicer with excellent extraction and simple clean up. There are higher end products out there, but this one does a bang up job for someone on a lower budget. Breville has been seen in the inspiring and entertaining documentary “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead”, which I highly recommending everyone watch at least once. It can be streamed for free at www.fatsickandnearlydead.com.

Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker
Yonanas Frozen Treat Maker – A healthy, natural alternative for the ice cream lover in your life.

Yonanas has become all the rage, making a creamy, delicious, sugar free, dairy free ice cream like product with nothing more than fresh fruits.  Sure, you can get the same results by pureeing frozen fruit in a blender or food processor, but the output from Yonanas is like having your own personal frozen yogurt machine on your kitchen counter. Who wouldn’t want in on that fun treat!?!

RELAXATION

Online Yoga Subscription
Online yoga memberships are great for busy professionals on the go.

Yoga has seriously changed my life. It’s made me stronger, more flexible, more confident and helped to reduce my stress. Of course, not everyone always has time to get to a studio to practice. Fortunately, there are great online memberships available with top notch instructors, including videos from two of my favorite LA based instructors (Courtney Harms and Beth Prandini) at Yogisanonymous.com and another favorite, Gigi Yogini at yogavibes.com.

holiday gift, relaxation, spa, gift for girlfriend, gift for wife
Burke Williams (or other local spa) gift certificate. Give the gift of relaxation to someone you love.

Your loved ones have worked hard all year. Maybe they’ve been busy running after the kids, or cleaning up after you. Make the holidays about them with a day at the spa. There are Burke Williams locations all around the LA area for a high end spa experience.

 

OTHER PRODUCTS

Numi Organic glass tea pot and flowering tea
Organic flowering tea with elegant glass pot makes a beautiful gift.

My favorite LA cafe serves some of their teas in beautiful glass pots. Anytime I post a photo of one of my teas, they always receive lots of comments from tea pot admirers. This beautiful Numi Flowering Tea Set is sure to gain some admirers of its own.

 

Conscious Box Vegan snacks
Conscious Box Vegan Snacks and Products: A great way for your health conscious friend to try new products!

A box brimming with eco-friendly, natural foods and household products.

Happy Belly allergy free box
Discover new and delicious allergy free products. Perfect gift for someone gluten free or dairy free.

A perfect gift for someone who is gluten free or dairy free, vegan, raw or paleo. Created by an Austin native who was tired of struggling to find healthy, allergy free snacks for herself and her son.

 

Farm Sanctuary Duck Duck Goose tea for baby and parents too! A cute gift that gives back by funding rescued farm animals.
Farm Sanctuary Duck Duck Goose tea for baby and parents too! A cute gift that gives back by funding rescued farm animals.

Farm Sanctuary has locations in New York and California, giving refuge to farm animals who have had a rough start to life and showering them with love. The online shop has a plethora of shirts and other products, but this baby tee really struck my adorable cord.

 

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

In their whole food form, cranberries are incredibly good for your health, but because of their tartness, they are often loaded with added sugars, which takes away from their nutritional goodness. This time of year, I love to make a fresh cranberry sauce using cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and orange, lightly sweetened with maple syrup. It is a sugar free cranberry sauce that has lots of flavor.

We are actually at the end of cranberry harvest right now, but this is the season when they are most prominently eaten. These tart little berries are native to North America and grown mainly in the Northeast region of the United States. In the fall, the fields are flooded so that the cranberries can float to the top for easy picking.

The phytonutrients in cranberry are effective in lowering inflammation throughout our bodies and is particularly known for reducing the risk of periodontal disease, provides excellent benefits for our digestive tract, including reduced risk of stomach ulcers and colon cancer. Most popularly, cranberries are known for reducing risk and symptoms of urinary tract infection.

 

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients
1/2 pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
¼ cup to ½ cup maple syrup
2 Tablespoons water
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
4 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 small orange, zested and juiced

Directions
1. In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, maple syrup and water. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
2. Stir again and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole.
3. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.

Yields about 1 ÂĽ Cup

Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Ingredients
  • ½ pound fresh cranberries, washed and dried
  • ÂĽ cup to ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 4 whole cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 small orange, zested and juiced
Instructions
  1. In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, maple syrup and water. Stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon stick, cloves, ginger and nutmeg.
  2. Stir again and simmer for an additional 5 to 7 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole.
  3. Add the orange juice and zest, stir and allow to cool before serving.
  4. Yields about 1 ÂĽ Cup