Seared Purple Cauliflower “Steaks” with pea purée and rainbow chard

seared-purple-cauliflower-steaks-pea-puree-rainbow-chard
Day 3 in the paleoveganista mono-diet challenge. At the grocery store I spotted purple cauliflower and organic rainbow chard. The ease of availability [of everything one could ever want from the vegetable kingdom] is a privilege I formerly took for granted when I worked at Whole Foods Market and saw things like purple cauliflower, orange cauliflower, and romenesco (my favorite vegetable, hence the Paleoveganista logo) multiple times during every shift. It wasn’t until I lived in places where the only available cruciferous vegetables took the form of anemic broccoli or canned collard greens that I began to understand how lucky I once was.

Despite my enthusiasm for the vibrant color of the purple cauliflower in itself, I began to research it after moving back to the states to determine how its nutritional value compares with standard *white* cauliflower.

As it turns out, purple cauliflower contains anthocyanins, a subtype of flavinoid compound that studies show may be very useful in regulating blood sugar levels, improving brain function, and promoting weight control. It makes sense that purple cauliflower would be a step up from white cauliflower in terms of nutritional benefits. I can’t be bothered by over-analyzing the vitamin content of the vegetables I eat, however. The one golden rule I keep in mind is: the more color it has, the higher the quality+quantity of absorbable nutrients it contains.

**Update: Shortly after writing this post I learned that multicolored (purple, orange) cauliflower resulted from breeding experiments conducted at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. in which scientists effectively bred caronetene into the cauliflower plant, turning it orange and 100 times richer in Vitamin A than white cauliflower. Apparently Dr. Micahel Dickenson achieved this by accident. Interestingly, the orange shade of the mutant cauliflower was derived from a process similar to that by which humans convert vitamin A (manifesting in darker skin or a “tan”). According to the documentation I read, Dr. Dickenson’s mutant orange cauliflower led to experimentation resulting in subsequent strains with pigments manifesting in different colors i.e. purple. By the year 2003, orange and purple cauliflower became available commercially. 11+ years later: nearly everyone in the states has seen a colorful cauliflower, so the novelty might have dissipated but demand is as high as ever.**

Unlike yesterday’s recipe and the two others before it, this one is more entree-like and the vibrant seared cauliflower looks gorgeous atop the pea puree alongside the rainbow chard. Unfortunately the pictures I took of this dish went missing, so I’ll have to add them later when I find them or try this again at a later date. I want to stay consistent in posting my recipes/meals plan during this mono-diet experiment, so I’ll post this now despite the lack of photographic representation.seared-purple-cauliflower-steaks-paleo

Seared Purple Cauliflower “Steaks” with pea purée and rainbow chard

Ingredients

1 head purple cauliflower
1 x 16oz bag organic frozen peas (I wish I’d had the time to find them fresh and shell them myself, but unfortunately my day job wouldn’t permit it).
1 bunch rainbow chard
2-4 garlic cloves (2 if you tolerate garlic; 3 if you like it, 4 if you love it)
Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Remove the leaves and the tough core from the cauliflower, and transfer to a bowl filled with warm water to loosen any dirt or debris. Yes, the leaves and core are part of this recipe. I’ll explain later.

Pre-heat oven to 450* F

Remove skins from the garlic cloves in 20 seconds or less using back of a knife to press each clove. This might be very common knowledge, but since I didn’t learn it until 19 I thought I’d mention it just in case.

If using a food processor or blender, add the peeled garlic cloves to the pitcher along with the non-dairy milk, lime juice, salt, and pepper. *Note: I personally can’t stand the taste of over-salted foods, so I add salt in increments of a “pinch” (about 1/16 teaspoon). Blend until a smooth liquid is achieved. Transfer to a container of some sort, and set aside.

In the absence of a food processor or blender: mince the garlic cloves as finely as possible. Then mix with the non-dairy milk and salt/pepper, using a whisk or a fork.

*Note: Both methods yield similar results; the main difference is that in the latter (manual) method the garlic will not pulverize completely.

Use a colander/strainer to drain the water from the soaking cauliflower leaves and stem/core. Check for any residual dirt, and rinse until clean. Slice thinly.

In a medium soup pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the cauliflower leaves and stem/core pieces. Boil for 5 minutes before adding the 2 cups frozen or fresh green peas.

Cover and let simmer on medium for 10 minutes.

As the cauliflower trimmings and green peas simmer, transfer the whole cauliflower head to a shallow oven pan and coat with garlic-lemon-nondairy-milk-blend using a basting brush if you have one. Otherwise. wing it by rotating the caulflower and gently pouring on the sauce to coat each side.

Oven temp should have reached 450* F by now. Place cauliflower in the oven. While it cooks, remove the green pea and cauliflower leaf blend from heat. Drain all liquid into a jar or other container. Set aside. After it cools for a few moments, transfer the pea-cauliflower leaf blend to the blender/food processor. Blend until smooth. It should resemble a very thick potato soup but not quite as thick as mashed potatoes.

Check the cauliflower. At this point it should need about 10 more minutes to fully “sear”. At this point the outer edges should look golden.

Pour the reserved [pea and cauliflower leaf] liquid into a saucepan. Meanwhile, chop the rainbow chard into bite-sized pieces. Sautee the chard in the vegetable water until tender. By this point, the cauliflower should be ready. It should look golden brown at the top but still distinctively purple throughout. Turn off oven and let cauliflower cool before creating the “steaks”.

Slice into the seared cauliflower to create pieces of approximately 1cm thickness. Plate atop a generous smear of pea puree and finish with a heaping spoonful of rainbow chard next to it. It looks really gorgeous. Let’s hope I find those pictures.

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Cauliflower Mash

cauliflower-mash
Day 3 of the paleoveganista mono-diet challenge. For those of you that haven’t read yesterday’s post or the one before it, my diet this week will focus on cauliflower and little else. Inspiration for this endeavor comes from a practice in the raw food community called mono-eating or mono-dieting. My version of a mono-diet in this case does not focus on raw dishes, since in winter months I tend to lean toward eating steamed or lightly cooked vegetables. The cooked dishes I’ve shared so far during this cleanse contain very little fat (no more than 1 tablespoon extra-virgin coconut oil or olive oil per recipe) or seasoning apart from lemon, black pepper, sea salt or kelp, and nutritional yeast or garlic in some recipes. In addition to cauliflower-based main dishes, I have continued to eat raw or steamed greens i.e. kale, collards and chard, to stay balanced nutritionally. I have continued to eat raw cauliflower as a snack between meals to maintain the 20% raw diet I adhere to in winter.

Cauliflower Mash

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
1 tablespoon softened coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Method

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the cooking liquid into a wide-mouth jar*. Be sure to drain well but reserve all the liquid. Transfer cauliflower to a large bowl. Add coconut oil or olive oil and mash with a potato masher until it reaches the consistency of mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*I drink the reserved liquid to avoid wasting the nutrients that cook out of the cauliflower when boiled. I consider it important, especially during a mono-diet or a cleanse/detox to drink the vegetable water. Warm, flavorful, nutrient-dense liquids tends to ease the transition from a high-calorie to a lower-calorie diet). The flavor will resemble a mild vegetable broth. For a richer or “meatier” flavor, try adding coconut aminos, Bragg’s liquid aminos or miso paste, and/or nutritional yeast.

For the holidays or your next picnic, this recipe functions perfectly as a low-carb, paleo alternative to mashed potatoes. Some variations include:

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
Before following the above recipe, slice off top of a garlic bulb so that the inner cloves are exposed. Drizzle very lightly with olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes; set aside to cool. Mash roasted garlic cloves along with the cauliflower, using the potato masher.

Fresh Rosemary Cauliflower Mash
Finely chop 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary and mash with the cauliflower using the potato masher.

Cheezy Cauliflower Mash
Following the basic recipe (above), add to the cauliflower before mashing:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp soy-free chickpea miso

Curried Cauliflower Mash
Following the basic recipe (above), add to the cauliflower before mashing:
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or more for extra heat

Chipotle Cauliflower Mash
To prep the chipotle puree: Add 1 can chipotles in abogado sauce into a medium bowl. Use the potato masher to pulverize until it resembles a paste. Add 1/4 cup chipotle paste to the drained cauliflower and mash as specified above. For chipotle-garlic cauliflower mash, combine this variation with the roasted garlic version, above.

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Cheezy Cauliflower “Popcorn”

cheezy-cauliflower-popcorn-paleoveganista
Day 2 in the paleoveganista mono diet challenge. Throughout this week-long mono-diet experiment I will post a new cauliflower-based recipe daily. Like yesterday’s recipe, this one makes 2-3 portions (enough for 1 person to eat throughout the day or to share as an entree with others). As I mentioned yesterday, by embarking on this week-long diet I intend to explore the potential benefits of eating 1 local, in-season vegetable and little else–supplemented with raw greens. I will post updates to share my experience along the way.

*Update from yesterday: I ate 1/2 the whole roasted cauliflower for an early lunch, and the other half 5 hours later. Later in the evening I snacked on 2 cups raw cauliflower florets and 1 bunch green kale leaves. Today I split the batch of cheezy cauliflower “popcorn” in three servings: 1 for breakfast/before work, 1 for lunch, and another for dinner/after work. At lunchtime I also ate 2 cups steamed collard greens.

Cheezy Cauliflower “Popcorn”

Ingredients

1 cauliflower head, cored and cut into bite-sized florets
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Method

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the oil, nutritional yeast, sea salt, and smoked paprika. Evenly spread the cauliflower onto the lined baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and stir. Return to oven and cook for another 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden.

Serve warm or save for later to enjoy as a snack. Store in a tuperware container or ziplock bag. *Tip: sneak some into the movie theater for a much healthier, tastier alternative to concession-stand popcorn!

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower

whole-roasted-cauliflowerThe first day in my mono-diet challenge week #1: cauliflower. I’ve had an interest in mono diets for years now and have loosely followed one before, about 8 years ago and again 2 years after that. The term “mono diet” might raise red flags in the eyes of some people as an extreme elimination diet or unhealthy obsession. Granted, some people do take it to the extreme i.e. nothing but bananas for 1 week. In contrast, my version of a mono diet takes 1 whole food and builds basic dishes around it using 5 ingredients or fewer. I’ve decided to start with cauliflower, an in-season vegetable that thrives during the winter months. To kick off this week, I chose to roast a whole head of cauliflower. Unlike other recipes for whole roasted cauliflower, this one does not call for oil.

This recipe works great for 1 person (providing leftovers to eat throughout the day, making it very easy to stick to a mono diet) or to share. It also makes a great main dish to cook for the entire family. Cut into it like you would a quiche or a pizza, and serve with greens. *On a mono diet, I never eliminate raw greens. The calorie-free nutrients they provide help to maintain nutritional balance and avoid nutrient deficiencies that might otherwise occur from eating only 1 food for 7 days. In any case, I prefer for my vitamin and mineral intake to come from vegetables and greens rather than isolated sources such as multivitamins or supplements. However, if you take a daily multivitamin I would recommend continuing to take it during periods of mono-eating.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

 Ingredients

1 head of Cauliflower, leaves & tough core removed
3 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Method

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Combine the lemon juice, garlic, and almond milk with the salt and pepper. Evenly coat the cauliflower head with the mixture. Place in a large shallow roasting pan and place in the center of the oven.

Roast for 25-35 minutes, occasionally rotating the cauliflower to ensure it cooks evenly. Remove from oven, let cool, and sprinkle with additional salt and pepper if desired.

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Puerto Rican “Crab Cakes”

vegan-crab-cakeConsidering association(s) of the dish with Chesapeake Bay and Baltimore, It surprised me to find crab cakes served in shacks on the beach in Puerto Rico. This recipe adapts the type of crab cake commonly found in Puerto Rico, which differs from other vegan adaptations that tend to emulate the style of crab cake most people expect in the states. Instead of using Tempeh or another “meat substitute” I used heart of palm, which seemed more appropriate in this case not only culturally speaking–but also for the fact that it makes the recipe not only paleo-friendly but paleo-approved. I’d like to hear rebuttals of this statement, if anyone begs to differ.

I find it easier to make the mixture for the cakes the night before, so that the flavors combine and the cakes form more easily. Since this recipe adaptation doesn’t call for breadcrumbs as many crab cake recipes do (which tends to help them to keep from falling apart), I highly recommend going this route if you can. Otherwise: no worries. Just apply a bit more care to the handling of the cakes while frying.

Also—if you make the aoili the day before I guarantee a flavor upgrade. Even a few days before (fyi the lemon juice acts as a natural preservative so no need to worry; it will keep at least a week).

vegan-crab-cake-puerto-rican

Puerto Rican “Crab” Cakes

Ingredients

For the cakes:
1 (14 ounce) can or jar heart of palm, chopped
1 cup water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil for pan frying
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 Large Garlic Cloves (pressed)
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/4 cup soy-free vegan mayo
1 Lime, juiced
1 Tbsp celery salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp dulse granules

Garlic aoili:
1/2 cup soy-free vegan mayo
1/2 lime, juiced
2 Tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp celery seed
pinch of cayenne pepper, or a bit more to taste

Method

Thoroughly combine all ingredients for the aioli in a small bowl. This does not require a mixer or food processor. Cover and move to the fridge.

Transfer all ingredients for the crab cakes in a bowl and mash with a fork. You can also use your hands.

To cook the cakes, preheat a thin layer of oil in a cast iron or otherwise non-stick skillet over medium heat. Scoop approximately 1/4 cup dough and form into a ball with your hands. Flatten gently and add to the skillet when ready. Depending on the circumference of your skillet, you can cook more than one at a time. When I developed this recipe I could only fit one in my (ridiculously small) cast iron skillet. I imagine most people own a larger one! But when cooking for 1, it works like a charm. Anyway: fry each 1 or each batch for 3 minutes on each side, allowing for the margin of error that could occur between types of stoves, skillets, oil used, etc.

Serve with lime wedges and garlic aioli. I think it tastes especially great atop flavorful wild lettuce leaves (such as “spring mix” that contains spicy lettuce i.e. arugula in addition to milder varieties e.g. baby romaine leaves). If you want to stick to authenticity of the region from which I adapted this recipe, serve it with shredded cabbage. *Totally unrelated: it’s my favorite vegetable…but I didn’t have any on hand for the photo.

crab-cakes-vegan

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Paleo Vegan Bagels

bagels-paleo-vegan
Until recently I never attempted to make my own bagels, since I imagined the task required fancy appliances and a lot of skill. The only paleo-friendly bagel recipes I’d found online required eggs–for which replacements such as flax or chia seeds should work in theory–but finding the perfect egg replacer in vegan recipe development can take many tries and several messes to clean. When you live with roommates, a mess in the kitchen can cause arguments and annoyed glances that just didn’t seem worth it in this case. Finally, while house-sitting one day I couldn’t resist the opportunity to utilize the empty kitchen and peaceful, quiet environment to make as many messes as it might take to develop this recipe. On the third try, after tweaking a few of the ingredients and proportions, my efforts paid off.

For this paleo vegan bagel recipe you need neither a bagel pan nor a mixer. Personally I found it easier to mix by hand, since it required significantly less clean-up afterward.

Paleo Vegan Bagels

This recipe yields 6 paleo vegan bagels. You will need:

Ingredients

1/2 cup blanched almond meal aka almond flour
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds or flaxseed meal
1/4 cup psyllium husk powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup coconut butter, softened
sesame seeds or poppy seeds, optional

Method

1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl, or in a food processor or mixer if you prefer.
2. Add the 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and 1/3 softened coconut butter. Continue to mix until ingredients combine to form a dough.
3. Separate dough into 6 uniform pieces and form into balls
4. Create a hole in each bagel (about the diameter of a quarter)
5. Sprinkle bagels with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, optional.
6. Bake on parchment paper at 350*F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove from oven, and let cool for an hour before serving.

To store the bagels for later use, transfer to the refrigerator or a cool, dry space in an airtight container.

Paleo vegan bagel topping ideas, some of my favorite combinations:

paleo-pizza-bagel-toppings

 

Savory Toppings

Avocado with red onion and black olives
Cilantro-pesto cheez with sliced heirloom tomatoes
Tahini with raw vegan sauerkraut

Or try my version of a “pizza” bagel:
Raw tahini with sun dried tomatoes, kale or arugula, and artichoke hearts; try it with Tofu ricotta for a low-fat version if you don’t have qualms about soy.

I usually make this open-faced but you can make it a bagel sandwich by spreading a thinner layer of tahini or tofu ricotta on both sides. If you spread it on both sides too thick, the flavor of the tahini tends to overpower the other ingredients. Too much tofu ricotta, on the other hand, will spill out both sides when you try to eat the sandwich.

Sweet Toppings

Tahini with thinly sliced apples, sprinkled with cinnamon
Hempseed butter, lightly sprinkled with cinnamon-stevia “sugar”
Almond butter with blueberries or blackberries (you can add them whole or mash them to make a spread or a “jam”. Add stevia to taste, optional, depending on the sweetness of the berries). Spread atop the almond butter.

Enjoy these paleo vegan bagels with different variations of your favorite ingredients.

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Mineral Makeup, Diy

mineral-makeup-how-toThe follow-up to my previous post about mineral makeup…this is the first in a series in which I will explain how to make it yourself.

How to Make Mineral Makeup

Ingredients

8 tsp Titanium Dioxide
3 tsp Mica
4 tsp Zinc Oxide
1 tsp Magnesium Stearate
Iron oxide in naturally-sourced yellow, red, and brown pigments
Mortar & Pestle or coffee grinder
Sifter jars

The amount of yellow, red, and brown iron oxide pigments will depend upon your skin tone.

In the mortar or grinder, you will need to combine the titanium dioxinde, mica, zinc oxide, and magnesium searate with the proper combination of pigments to suit your skin tone. I will explain how to do this later. As a reference, here is the mixture I use that matches my skin, including the measurements of titanium dioxide, mica, zinc oxide, and magnesium searate that should be used in the formula no matter what your skin tone:

Mineral Makeup – Blends I Use

In Late Fall/Winter, or in cold climates:
4 Tbsp Titanium dioxide
4 tsp Zinc oxide
4 tsp Mica
3 tsp Yellow iron
1 tsp Brown iron oxide
1/8 tsp Red iron oxide

In Spring/Summer, or in tropical climates:
4 Tbsp Titanium dioxide
4 tsp Zinc oxide
4 tsp Mica
3 tsp Yellow iron oxide
1/2 tsp Brown iron oxide
1/8 tsp Red iron oxide

*In other words, I double the Brown iron oxide in warmer months but don’t change the other pigments. It’s sort of like adding bronzer, but more subtly.

When I started researching how to make my own mineral makeup in 2008 I found a book in my college library from the 1970s that explained all of this very well. I made copies in order to make my own mineral makeup, and by the grace of whomever I found them recently. Despite the generalizations of skin tones as “light”, “medium”, and “dark”, I think these serve as a decent base from which to fine-tune accordingly (to suit every individual).

**I found these in a 1970s book called “Natural Beauty”. They are not my words**

Dark

3 Tbsp Titanium dioxide
3 tsp Zinc oxide
3 tsp Mica
4 1/2 tsp Brown iron oxide
1/2 tsp Red iron oxide
1/2 tsp Yellow iron oxide

Medium

Titanium dioxide 5 Tbsp
Zinc oxide 5 tsp
4 1/2 tsp Mica
1 tsp Brown iron oxide
Red iron oxide 1/2 tsp
6 tsp Yellow iron oxide

Light

4 Tbsp Titanium dioxide
4 tsp Zinc oxide
4 tsp Mica
3 tsp Yellow iron oxide
1/2 tsp Brown iron oxide
1/8 tsp Red iron oxide

After researching more I found that these color combinations are the basic prototypes for most commercial foundations (mineral or otherwise). This may account for the fact that many people can’t find a foundation that suits their skin tone, since no skin tone is exactly the same. After making my own for so long I developed a pigment that I think now resembles mine, yet how can I begin to write a tutorial explaining how to create a blend that matches your unique skin tone? I will have to learn more before claiming to know this in an authoritative sense. So stay tuned. I will learn more about color palates and mineral combinations for different skin types and share them with you. Back the method:

Method

Use your morter/pestle or grinder to pulverize the ingredients until it resembles a loose powder of a uniform color.

Transfer to a container that you can easily use a brush with. *If you’re like me and saved makeup tins or old mineral makeup containers i.e. bare minerals or the like–then you’re in luck. Otherwise, any plastic or glass container that closes tightly will do the trick.

Mineral Makeup – Troubleshooting

In general:
If you see too much yellow for your natural skin tone, add more red oxide.
If the color looks overly pink, add more yellow oxide.
If the color looks too light add a pinch more brown iron oxide.
If the color looks too dark, add more titanium dioxide.
To cover blemishes add more zinc oxide, but beware of over-doing it since adding too much can create too much of an ash tone.

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Nikujaga

NikujagaEntering the winter months, we can’t go wrong in preparing healthy stews and soups for ourselves, our family, and our friends. I had a nightmare last night in which a nurse held me down with a flu shot needle/syringe in her hand. No joke. I recall screaming at her “just because I passed up the free flu shots at CVS…doesn’t mean I want your injection”. Oh, the horror. My dream state (a futuristic, fantastical version of real life) mandated flu shots in an Orwellian sort of way. In other words, Big Brother finally caught up with us. I have nightmares over flu shots as a result of the time I traveled to Mexico to work and the employer required vaccinations. I was 19. As a vegan of 4 years at the time, the fact that the hospital exclusively used egg-based up-the-nose vaccinations (which I later found is also legal in the States) freaked me out. The thing was–if I didn’t comply and go through with this vaccination I would lose the opportunity to work and travel abroad. The verdict? As I predicted, I got sick. I stayed in bed for a week, suffering from influenza. In other words, I got sick from the flu vaccine.

…Moving on to the point of this post, which describes and documents my decision to eat soup every day as opposed to subjecting myself to the terror of flu shots:

Nikujaga

I first discovered the traditional recipe for Nikukjaga whilst perusing the shelves at an Asian market. I experienced this recently, and found that the market in question sells shiritaki noodles for a fraction of the price it goes for at Safeway, Lucky, Fred Meyer, HEB, or other brand-name stores. The purchase I made influenced me to study happiness economics, or the economics of happiness. As a person on a limited budget, I can identify with many other individuals in the USA, I assume. So, to avoid over-intellectualizing things–I’ll continue with the ways in which you can make this dish in a paleo-vegan fashion.Nikujaga (2)
Nikujaga or 肉じゃが is a Japanese dish of meat, potatoes and stewed in sweetened soy sauce and vegetables. Potatoes often make up the bulk of it, with meat mostly serving as a condiment. The stew typically boils until at least 90% liquid reduces.

Nikujaga is a common home-cooked winter dish, often served in place of or to accompany miso soup.

To Veganize Nikujaga:

First off, we will of course eliminate the beef. Second, make sure you have carrots, onions, green beans on hand. Preferably, you will have ginger, garlic, and onion. The paleo-vegan “cheat” I used in this recipe is diakon radish to substitute for additional potatoes. Also, daikon is often used in Japanese cuisine. The recipe for Nijujaga that I found on a package of shiritaki noodles from a Korean market did not call for it, but in my adaptation it eliminates 20 carbs per serving. If you don’t have access to that type of radish, use any other radish. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

PaleoVegan Nikujaga:

Ingredients

2 x 4″ square pieces kombu seaweed
2 cups water
1 small red potato, chopped
4 green beans
1/2 large diakon radish, chopped
1 onion, minced
1″ piece ginger, minced
1 tsp red chiles, granulated
1 medium carrot, grated
1 package shirataki noodles, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups water
1 pkg. stevia granules (equivalent to 1 sugar packet).
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce

Method

Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the kombu seaweed, cover the pot, and reduce heat to medium-low.

Drain and rinse shirataki noodles. Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil (or your oil of choice) in a wok or soup pot over medium heat. Saute the potato, onion, carrot, ginger, red chiles, and diakon radish. Once you’ve sauteed the vegetables, reduce heat to low.

Remove kombu from the water and add water to the soup pot. Now add the drained and rinsed shirataki noodles, the 2 Tbsp sake, and 1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce. Stir. Cook until most of the water evaporates, or when the texture begins to resemble a stew.
Nikujaga (1)Enjoy frequently, especially during flu season. Add fresh-cut lime as a garnish, to improve the flavor and increase the Vitamin C content.

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1 Food You Should Learn to Make in College

…when you don’t want to eat like this:
college-food-pyramid (1)

College is difficult to navigate on many levels, with or without the dreaded “freshman 15″. In my case, as a raw vegan, I could’ve avoided it easily with a bit of planning ahead–but unfortunately (as a raw vegan entering college at 17) there weren’t any resources geared toward people of my demographic. Sure, vegan how-to guides for college students existed…but most of those focused on the need to appeal to a younger or otherwise “college-age” crowd, i.e. the irony was so thick you could cut it with a knife. *Disclaimer: The copy in those books never ceased to be clever, and for that I think they’re great. I adapted many of the recipes to suit a raw food diet and later said recipes actually became quite helpful. That said, the avocado-date-kale smoothies I made in the dorm kitchen prior to moving out did not do me many favors in terms of staying fit. The walks from work to school and drinking coffee instead of breakfast did. I’m not saying you should skip breakfast, in college or otherwise. Knowing your body takes time. It’s complicated. The recipe that saved my physique, taking the place of too much fat and sugar, as well as too much coffee, in order to stay alert and not fall asleep in class…is this:wakake-carrot-tahini

Wakame-Carrot-Tahini Bowl

I invented this after acquiring a food processor at Goodwill in February 2008 that I noticed while in search of cassette tapes (this was pre-smartphone/iPhone, obviously) for my 1996 Subaru Outback. I admit I’m a bit of a blender snob (if that’s a thing; I doubt it is) so the 1985 Oster blender caught my eye immediately. So did the 1981 food processor. Ironically and to my sheer and utter delight, I found both that day. After that fateful second-hand shopping spree, inevitably my raw (and later, paleovegan) recipes started to require a food processor or blender. Take note, parents and grandparents of college students or other progeny with hectic schedules: sometimes you can’t take the time to eat a salad. It is, however, possible to throw said salad in a blender, pour it in a coffee mug, and drink it on the way to class or to work.

Despite the monologue regarding blenders, this post concerns a recipe that doesn’t require one. (It was merely to foreshadow upcoming posts for future recipes geared toward paleovegan college students). This wakame-carrot-tahini bowl incorporates every component of the type of meal that scientific studies have proven to meet the requirements of satisfaction regarding the human palate. It’s true: see this article. It also contains 160 calories…about the same as a Luna bar, a Lara bar, or other “bar” I previously relied on for a “snack”. It does contain fat (13g) but the absence of oil makes it paleo. I lost 10 pounds after eliminating oil, avocados, and bananas from my diet. *Note, I’m not against the consumption of avocados or bananas. In fact, I actually really like them. It’s just not natural, in my opinion, to eat them in non-tropical regions of the world. If you live in a tropical climate and those fruits are available in-season, locally…you should incorporate them into your otherwise balanced paleovegan diet.

wakake-carrot-tahini (2)

The Need for Seaweed

I’m discovering more and more how significant a part seaweed plays in a paleovegan diet no matter where you live. Seaweed is available and sourced naturally from one end of the earth to the other. Wherever there’s ocean, seaweed exists. Granted, some states and provinces are landlocked…but never more than halfway across a continent from a beach. Eat seaweed. But do take note of the semi-recent radiation scare re: Fukushima…and also be aware of the fact that only hijiki seaweed is thought to have been affected. So, avoid hijiki if you’re worried about the potential radiation (which many studies show did not actually affect the seaweed) but don’t worry about other varieties. Seaweed contains iodine, a nutrient missing in most other foods but considered important according to science. A member of the algae family, the plethora of seaweed available falls into three different categories: brown, red and green. The most commonly used by chefs throughout the world are the brown varieties such as wakame (the seaweed used in this recipe) followed by kelp (of which there are so many varieties I can’t list them here). Then there is red seaweed, a subgroup of seaweed that includes nori (the type used in sushi).
wakame-carrot-tahini

 Wakame-Carrot-Tahini Bowl: The Recipe

…so easy and satisfying, you’ll kick yourself for the times you brought ramen noodles to school or microwaved frozen dinners for late-night sustenance.

ingredients

Makes 1 serving

3/4 cup dry wakame seaweed
1 cup raw julienned carrots (or you can use a vegetable peeler to shave off noodle-like pieces).
2 Tbsp raw tahini (or you can use roasted, which some people prefer and is the type generally used in hummus and babaganoush)

method

Put wakame in a small bowl or mug. Pour enough water over it to cover and let sit for 10 minutes (wakame is perhaps the quickest to hydrate of all the seaweeds, hence the use of it in this “quick and easy” student-friendly recipe).

After wakame is hydrated, there shouldn’t be much water to drain. It depends on your salt preference. If you like ramen noodles or recently stopped eating meat or cheese, don’t drain it. If your taste buds are more fine-tuned (having gone vegan at least 6 months ago), drain at least part of the water.

Add raw tahini to the carrot pieces to coat them. Then add carrot to the seaweed, stirring as you would a salad.

Eat.

…and await more raw vegan and paleovegan recipes. Focus on your studies and let me take charge of your meal plan. You’ll thank me later.

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Mineral Makeup 101 #NaBloPoMo

Nov 14 National Blog Posting Month prompt: Do you enjoy growing old or do you fight against it?

I don’t fight against it. I don’t consider myself old. I think that age is relative, at least to a certain extent. In fact I’d like to turn that question in the opposite direction–to propose the idea that we can actually lose age, to suggest that age could equal wisdom. In other words, sometimes I feel as if I’ve lost wisdom–and therefore, with each un-wise experience I become younger. That’s probably fruit for an over-analyzation or existential debate, so in the case of this answer I’ve decided to write in a more practical tone.
mineral makeupOver a decade ago, mineral makeup revolutionized conventional ideas about concealer and foundation, forever changing the cosmetics industry. The first major contender in the mineral makeup industry was Bare Escentuals, but according to Leslie Blodgett–who would later rebrand the line as bareMinerals, “…the shades Bare Escentuals had created weren’t working. They were gross.” Blodgett, an FIT-trained now-CEO of the company with a bootstrap-ethic backstory (as explained in a 2010 interview with Inc. for the column “how I did it”) redesigned the pigments used in Bare Escentuals and relaunched the line as bareMinerals.

With the rebranding of bareMinerals , the idea that chemical-free, paraben-free, 100% natural makeup could contend with big-name designer and drugstore makeup brands seemed far-fetched to many, and perhaps can explain why the bareMinerals name took almost 2 decades to harness the spotlight and force every major player in the cosmetics industry to follow suit. In other words, back when bareMinerals launched, the market for natural makeup pertained to more of a niche audience.

I saw bareMinerals as a revolutionary new take on makeup. After a facial/skin treatment in Northern California in 2006 I was sold, merely because I’d finally found an alternative to Neutrogena and Clinique liquid foundations and powders (the two labels that caused only minor breakouts as opposed to full-on dermatitis on my face). I used bareMinerals for years before I discovered alternative brands at natural food co-ops, marketed without the hype or glamour of the bareMinerals brand. I didn’t want to make the trek to the mall in order to purchase refills from Macy’s, so I started to buy the “knock-off” brand sold at the co-op in town. About 2 purchases in, it hit me: why not make it myself? After a bit of research I found online retailers that sold every ingredient for cheap, and soon learned that mixing pigments did not require rocket science.

Why Make Your Own Mineral Makeup?

Over the years, when the cosmetics industry caught on that its lack of success in marketing tactics had something to do with the chemicals in its formulas–coupled with the surge in popularity of all-natural, mineral cosmetics–the market exploded. Tried and true brands/manufacturers began to market what is essentially the same product, with each of their respective labels. Take for example, the newly popular drugstore brand e.l.f. (stands for eyes, lips, face). At a drugstore, online, or even at Grocery Outlet, you can buy loose powder mineral foundation, concealer, and other products like “primer” and “mineral veil”, for $3-5 per individual piece, or a starter kit for $12. The ingredients and pigments mimic those present in bareMinerals, a more expensive brand that I highly doubt you would ever find on the shelf at a bargain/discount grocery store.

Here’s the thing: Loose powder mineral makeup is sold online, in bulk. It is purchased by companies that market it as their own. There is nothing wrong with this, but even the brands you see at natural foods stores that look as if they were lovingly created via mortar and pestle in the home of a toltec shaman in New Mexico…are actually made in a factory in China (unless specified otherwise).

Take a look:

bareMinerals
Net weight: 8.5g
Cost: $25.00
Cost per gram: $2.94
Ingredients: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, zinc oxide, bismuth oxychloride, mica, ultramarines

Purely Cosmetics
Net weight: 6g
Cost: $22.00
Cost per gram: $3.67
Ingredients: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, zinc oxide, mica, ultramarines

Laura Mercier:
Net weight: 9.6g
Cost: $35.00
Cost per gram: $3.65
Ingredients: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, zinc oxide, mica, bismuth oxychloride, pearl powder, ultramarines

Youngblood:
Net weight: 10g
Cost: $34.95
Cost per gram: $3.50
Ingredients: Titanium dioxide, bismuth oxychloride, mica, iron oxides

e.l.f.
Net weight: 7.9g
Cost: $8
Cost per gram:
Ingredients: titanium dioxide, iron oxides, zinc oxide, bismuth oxychloride, mica, ultramarines

The above brands list their ingredients. Other brands that claim to use only natural ingredients and don’t test on animals have failed [or decided against] revealing their formulations or company policies regarding animal testing. Natural and paraben-free brands that do list ingredients but contain other ingredients past the basic formula as listed above include Physicians Formula and freshMinerals, among others. The ingredient bismuth oxychloride has raised alarm among certain individuals such as breast cancer survivors. This concern has led to deliberate avoidance of that particular ingredient by established and up-and-coming brands. One notable example is Afterglow cosmetics. Brands including Loreal, Cover Girl, Revlon, and others found at drugstores have jumped on the mineral makeup bandwagon due to the high demand for mineral makeup. However, what isn’t widely understood is the fact that the original demand did not stem from a widespread interest in “mineral makeup” per se. Rather, it’s the absence of chemicals and simplification of formulas–in essence, a product that will not harm the skin or contribute to future breakouts. Considering the toxins we breathe and absorb through our skin (and often our food) every day, the last thing need is to wear them on our face.

The above brand comparison sheds light on the fact that despite very minor variances in ingredients–some come with a hefty price tag and others do not. Something else to take note of is the difference in brushes between companies like bareMinerals, e.l.f., and EcoTools. I’ve purchased face brushes from each with neither complaints nor significant observances of difference among any of the aforementioned brands, yet the contrast in price is extreme.

bareEssesntials
Kabuki Brush: $28
5pc Starter Brush Set: $49
bareminerals-kabuki-brush

e.l.f.
Kabuki Brush: $6
5pc Starter Brush Set: $10
elf-kabuki-brush

EcoTools
Kabuki Brush: $6.99
5pc Starter Brush Set: $12.99
EcoTools-kabuki-brush

From personal experience, I recommend EcoTools over e.l.f. in terms of brush quality.

Next post: Mineral Makeup DIY

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