I don’t typically eat potatoes. Occasionally I will indulge in a sweet potato or yam, but it always feels like wasted caloric intake because I don’t find them very exciting. In other words, I hardly ever have what some might call “potato cravings”. Though when I saw purple potatoes at the market today, I thought back to my travels in Ecuador and Peru and recalled how many potatoes I ate during that year. Purple potatoes are, in fact, native to the region that is now Peru. They are a heirloom variety, which is ironic for a few reasons. First of all, the term “heirloom” is defined as a valuable object that has belonged to a family for several generations and in the context of gardening it refers to a cultivar of a vegetable or fruit that is open-pollinated and is not grown widely for commercial purposes. The irony is that these potatoes, like many other “heirloom” varieties, have only very recently become known / available in the states (and other Western industrialized societies). Now many people are adapting and choosing to purchase heirloom varieties, yet for the most part they still seem like a novelty of sorts. The fact is, there are 3,800 varieties of potato in Peru alone, many of which are significantly higher in vital nutrients. So, in celebration of the fact that upwards of 3,800 varieties of potato exist outside the realm of what we expect to see in supermarkets i.e. russet, red, or yukon potatoes, I decided it was appropriate to make a traditional “American” dish using Peruvian Purple Potatoes. Continue reading
Before I stopped eating eggs and cheese, I was a huge fan of the chile relleno. While I have never encountered the dish in any region of Mexico, which leads me to believe it is an Americanized dish, I always feel a pang of nostalgia on those rare occasions that I eat out (at Mexican restaurants in the states) and wind up ordering a combination of side dishes i.e. guacamole or avocado slices, a few different salsas, and occasionally black beans if they’re available (and if I’m feeling rebelliously un-paleo). During my most recent experience at a Mexican restaurant (Mexicali would be a more accurate term, as we were in California and the restaurant in question offered vegan fajitas) with my mom and grandparents, I found myself staring at my Nana’s chile relleno and wishing it wasn’t stuffed with cheese and fried in egg batter (which also contained wheat flour). And then it occurred to me that a vegan chile relleno could be possible if toasted cashews were utilized to make a “cheese” to replace the traditional cheese filling, as well as a grain-free flour and egg alternative in place of the egg/flour batter. Continue reading
These Chia, Hemp & Almond Banana Pancakes are almost too good to be true. Flourless and gluten-free, this recipe is also soy free and contains no added sugar. The natural sweetness of the bananas, enhanced with stevia extract, give these Chia, Hemp & Almond Banana Pancakes the perfect amount of sweetness without the empty calories. Each serving (1 pancake) boasts 12g protein, 10g fiber, 600mg potassium–with only 5g sugar.
This recipe utilizes a “cereal” by the Nature’s Path brand ‘Qi’a Superfood’ made with only 5 ingredients (chia seeds, buckwheat groats, hemp seeds, dried cranberries, and slivered almonds–all organic, gluten-free and vegan). I was pacing around kitchen this morning trying to think of what could be used as a gluten-free, paleo flour that wouldn’t require a trip to the store. As I contemplated whether to use oats or almonds, I noticed the bag of chia-hemp-buckwheat cereal–and realized I’d stumbled upon the perfect prototype for this delicious and nutrient-dense Chia, Hemp & Almond Banana Pancakes Recipe. Continue reading
These Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Wraps are 100% grain-free, gluten-free, oil-free and extremely low in carbs. This recipe doesn’t utilize legumes (peanuts, beans, chickpeas, etc.) which makes it legitimately paleo as opposed to just paleo-friendly. I try to follow the paleo diet as closely as I can without ever straying from strict veganism. For this reason, I sometimes turn to other sources of protein such as legumes (only occasionally, and in moderation). Also, when trying to implement grain-free flours (for baking) I have found it more effective to mix chickpea flour with coconut flour or almond meal (instead of using only the latter, especially when trying to keep the fat content to a minimum). So when calculating what would be the perfect paleo alternative to a falafel sandwich/wrap, I was at first discouraged because falafel almost always contains grains (and chickpeas are usually obligatory unless you use eggs–which are obviously not vegan). Not to mention the wheat flour in the standard pita bread. And then the next day (after meddling over this “how to make a falafel sandwich that fits into the category of vegan and paleo” dilemma), I realized that lightly-broiled cabbage could potentially be the perfect alternative to pita bread or flatbread–and decided to eschew the falafel idea but stay on track with the Mediterranean-style wrap idea. Continue reading
Many years ago, back in my not-quite-vegan days, I would order Pad Thai at every opportunity. While it is easy to veganize by omitting the eggs, the noodles alone contain way more carbs than I prefer to eat in a day. Then there’s the sauce–which is normally made with cane sugar (more carbs) and peanut butter (the full fat kind, which–depending on the restaurant in question–is likely to be the commercial type–made with hydrogenated oil). I’ve made Pad Thai before (once from scratch and other times from a box) and always used natural peanut butter–but to achieve a result that actually tastes like peanuts it’s pretty necessary to use a generous amount which can result in caloric overload (upwards of 200, just from the peanut butter alone). I’ve started making pasta dishes with Shirataki noodles, and today I was thinking about Thai food and lamenting the fact that Pad Thai wouldn’t be the same without the noodles. And then I had the sudden epiphany that Shirataki noodles could replace the traditional rice or wheat noodles, and other substitutions could be used (i.e. stevia in place of cane sugar and defatted peanut flour to omit the need for peanut butter–giving the dish a noticeable peanut flavor without the fat gram overload). Continue reading
As I was browsing the aisles at Trader Joe’s this evening, something caught my eye that I couldn’t resist purchasing. It was definitely an impulse buy, since I normally don’t have the urge or need to buy anything from the prepared food (ready-made, meal to-go) section. But the idea of quinoa as sushi rice really was intriguing. I usually prefer sushi with avocado, since it gives it a creamy-savory quality–but I was more than willing to try this. If there was any equivocation in my mind, the teriyaki mushroom filling definitely sealed the deal.
Trader Joe’s Quinoa Teriyaki Mushroom roll also incorporates carrots and baby spinach, adding the overall nutritional value. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the condiments were in easy-to-open packages, the soy sauce was the organic and reduced-sodium kind, and the sushi ginger wasn’t bright pink nor was the wasabi neon green (neither one contained the food dye or preservatives that are often used to add color). Continue reading
When I was growing up, my favorite grab-and-go breakfast & snack was an orange creamsicle-flavored Yoplait yogurt cup. I remember thinking it was a healthy choice because the fat content was low and as far as I knew, yogurt was a health food. Over the years after first becoming vegan, I have periodically tried new varieties of non-dairy “yogurt” (such as soy, almond, and coconut). Never once have I come across “orange-creamsicle” or “orange-cream” flavored non-dairy yogurt. So while this Orange-Ginger Creamsicle Smoothie does not contain probiotics, the ginger provides comparable digestive benefits. With an extra dose of antioxidants from the raspberries to protect against free radicals, this vitamin-rich concoction is the perfect way to supercharge your morning or afternoon. The fiber and potassium of the banana will keep you feeling full and energized, and the ginger will combat headaches and digestive issues that sometimes accompany a hectic workday. Continue reading
Photo from my Instagram, username: Vivaluminosa
This tofu scramble is inspired by vegan cookbook legend Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Scrambled Tofu Revisited on the Post Punk Kitchen (PPK) website. As implied by Isa, scrambled tofu is one of the most common vegan option out there. Not only can you expect to find it in vegan cookbooks, it’s quite possibly the most widely-offered at breakfast restaurants with vegan menu options (i.e. substitute tofu scramble for the egg in an omelet). Personally, I almost always pass on it because it seems too much like “lunch”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to advocate straying from conventions about what foods/dishes should be eaten at particular meals or times of day. That said, when I go out to breakfast / brunch I almost always want “breakfast food”, and thus not really in the mood for tofu cut in perfectly square cubes. But while visiting my friend Melissa in Portland, we decided to make brunch. Naturally, scrambled tofu was the first to come to mind. While brainstorming recipe ideas and/or ways to dress up or enliven the basic standard version, I came across the PPK website and Isa Chandra’s guidelines for scrambled tofu and tips for making it awesome. Continue reading
This Spicy Tofu Hot Pot is inspired by a recipe with the “vegetarian weight watchers” tag on the blog Please Pass the Tofu. The recipe calls for kimchi, which I did not have time to make and since it was after 8pm most Asian grocery stores were closed. At the conventional grocery store I was able to find the other ingredients and a few extras in order to tweak the recipe a bit, and since kimchi was a no-go I bought a can of the most basic sauerkraut (Western Family brand for about sixty cents), Chinese hot mustard, and chili garlic hot sauce (the same kind you can expect to find on the table at Thai restaurants, which I always use a ridiculous amount of). The original recipe also calls for cayenne pepper, which I already had at home. If you’re sensitive to spicy food, you may want to leave out the cayenne and reduce the amount of chili sauce as well. Just a head’s up. So my objective, in buying the chili sauce and hot mustard, was to give the sauerkraut a kimchi-like quality. I don’t know if that’s what was achieved, but I was satisfied with the result nonetheless and plan to use chili sauce and hot mustard soaked sauerkraut in other recipes because it’s actually quite delicious. Continue reading
While in Punta Gorda, Belize (referred to locally as “PG”), I was introduced to Gomier’s Restaurant. I went for dinner with my mom while we were staying at Hickatee Cottages (Ian and Kate, who own and run Hickatee, recommended that we try it). We were very impressed with the curried tofu vegetable and barbecue tofu plates we ordered (we ended up sharing because they were both equally delicious). We ended up chatting with Gomier (owner & chef) about the origin of the restaurant and philosophy behind it, and learned about the tofu-making lessons he offers to community members and tourists. I was excited to learn more and write a piece for paleoveganista.com, so we set up an interview for later in the week.
I will post the full review & article soon! In the meantime, here’s a preview: Tofu cheesecake garnished with dragonfruit and soursop ice cream…
…because when it comes to delicious vegan treats made from scratch, with all ingredients sourced from within a 5 mile radius (if not from the adjacent garden or nearby fruit trees), “dessert first” is a no-brainer.