5 Salad Dressing Recipes ≤ 5 ingredients

perfect salad
I’ve traveled a lot, in many situations where access to a blender was nil. Whether it was a motel room with a mini fridge, or a hospedaje with bars on the widows; a hostel dorm with a shared kitchen, a tent, or my car, I’ve managed to make every salad dressing on this list with as little as a pocket knife and a mason jar. That’s not to say they’re simplistic. These recipes can transform something as basic as shredded cabbage into a flavorful and satisfying meal.
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Thai-inspired Paleo Bowl

This post is inspired by the many Thai restaurants I have dined at in the United States. Of all the options available in those circumstances, I always felt torn between eggplant and peanut-based dishes. Since I’ve had great difficulty finding eggplant lately, I decided to invent a Pad Thai-influenced low-carb dish without the tofu (since it’s not sold in the proximity of my current abode) and obviously without egg or noodles. Green beans aka string beans work swimmingly as a replacement for pasta/noodles in my experience, and kale increases not only nutrition but also adds to the flavor profile of most dishes. I’d write more, but the WiFi isn’t exactly ideal.

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Thai-inspired Paleo Bowl

Ingredients

1 cup green beans, stemmed and cut into thirds
1 cup dino kale, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, shelled
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1/4 tsp tamari
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp maple syrup or sweetener of choice
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp thai-style chili garlic sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
thai-paleovegan (1)

Method

Place shelled peanuts into a plastic ziplock bag and crush with the back of a can opener or similar device. Remove from bag and set aside.

Add chopped kale and green beans to a small or medium pot and boil in 3 cups water. Add a pinch of salt, cover, and cook on medium-low for 5 minutes.




Add crushed peanuts to a wok or skillet with the 1/2 tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp minced ginger, diced onion, 1 tsp maple syrup, and 1 Tbsp thai chili garlic sauce. Heat for 1 minute on medium, to sauté.

Reduce heat to low. Add 1/4 teaspoon tamari and stir.

Add a portion of the kale/green bean mix to a serving dish. Top with the sauteed peanut/onion mixture. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and lime juice. Serve.

Nutritional Info

Per serving: 100 Calories, 10g Fat, 200mg Potassium, 3g Sugar, 3g Carbs, 3g Fiber, 5g Protein.

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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.

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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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Sea Spaghetti: Better than Kelp Noodles

saladLately I’ve seen quite a few recipe posts that feature kelp noodles, especially as a carb-free replacement for noodles. The type of kelp noodle these recipes call for is stripped of its outer green/brown layer in order to resemble vermicelli or bean thread aka glass noodles. This process removes not only flavor but also vitamins and minerals. While still a decent alternative for the paleo inclined, I prefer to use sea spaghetti, or Himanthalia elongata, a species of kelp with a natural noodle-like shape (no processing required).

Nutrients in Sea Spaghetti vs. Kelp Noodles

According the the nutrition fact labels of kelp noodle brands on the market, a 4oz serving contains 4g dietary fiber, 15% calcium, and 4% iron. In contrast, a 4oz serving of sea spaghetti contains 5% dietary fiber and 25% calcium, 400% vitamin C, 40% potassium, 29% magnesium, and 56% iodine.

Unprocessed kelp like sea spaghetti and other sea vegetables play an important role in staying healthy and balanced, especially when following a paleo-vegan diet. I try to eat some form of it daily; if not as a meal, in the form of spirulina, blue-green algae or chorella supplement. I’m kind of a sea vegetable connoisseur, and I enjoy the natural flavor and texture of all varieties. Considering the reduced nutritional value, bland flavor profile, and vaguely chemical aroma prior to cooking/soaking, kelp noodles just don’t do it for me.

Also, considering the cost of some varieties it seems like a waste to make the splurge and not benefit from the vitamin C, pantothenic acid, zinc, copper, vitamin K, riboflavin, folate, iron, calcium, and magnesium naturally present in kelp.

Where to Buy Sea Spaghetti
Sea Spaghetti is harvested in Brittany and the west coast of Ireland. Shipment to the United States or elsewhere can be costly, especially direct from the manufacturer. Fortunately, like other retailers in the UK and Europe, some manufacturers of sea spaghetti have partnered with Amazon.com to significantly reduce the cost of shipping as part of an overall purchase of $25.

I have not ordered sea spaghetti online, but tried it at a raw vegan potluck and purchased some from a friend who bought it wholesale to reduce the cost. I later discovered it on sale at an Asian grocery store in San Francisco for $1.99. It was merely labeled “dried seaweed” but the flavor and texture seemed like sea spaghetti. *Edit: It was arame, which looks and tastes very similar so if you can’t get the real thing I recommend it. Look for “long arame” at Asian grocery stores.

How to use Sea Spaghetti, Arame, etc.
Soak overnight or for at least an hour if you choose to use it raw. You can also boil it or cook it under 115 degrees Fahrenheit so it is technically raw according to the principles of a raw food diet. To use as a replacement for spaghetti (as a raw foodist) soak it first and heat on low until the water achieves warmth to your liking/dietary requirements. For those who don’t follow a strict raw diet, heat it as you would regular pasta. If this is the case for you, there isn’t a need to soak it first (though some experts say this is more optimal for nutrient absorption). Use in place of spaghetti in any recipe, in a salad, or by itself. I like it with sesame seeds and no dressing or other ingredients (see photo, above). It’s also great with tahini and carrots, a recipe I developed my sophomore year at college and rediscovered a few days ago. I’ll post the recipe soon.

After visiting a few other Asian groceries and a bit of internet research, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that any “string” or “sea tangle” seaweed would function as sea spaghetti. Not all of us can or want to pay $25 in shipping for Irish or French sea spaghetti. I no longer keep in touch with the aforementioned friend from the raw vegan potluck, and haven’t met anyone else who wants to buy it in bulk. That said, I think it’s a great product and perfect replacement for wheat or rice or quinoa or other grain pasta…but other seaweeds can work just as well. Enter: arame and other types that are often marketed as wakame or kombu but are cut in strips to resemble spaghetti also. I was never a huge fan of spaghetti anyway, but the sheer novelty of the fact that seaweed can emulate it so easily and pack such a profoundly more potent nutrient punch–I had to write this post. Not to mention the fact that it’s carb-free and causes weight loss while flooding your body with more nutrients. Did I mention nutrients? Oh yeah, I did.

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Vegan In-Flight Dining Guide

Inflight DiningMany airlines offer special meals to accommodate passengers of varying lifestyles and dietary preferences. American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, and Continental Airlines, to name a few, provide a number of alternative meal types on long-distance flights including Western vegetarian/vegan, vegetarian Jain (pure vegetarian/vegan meal adhering to the principles of the Jain belief system), and raw vegetable and/or fruit plates. These alternative meals must be confirmed in advance at the time of ticket purchase or at least 72 hours prior to check-in. These options might vary according to seasonal availability and changes in budget.

Choosing a Vegan In-Flight Meal

When booking your flight, keep an eye out for a “special dietary preferences” checkbox or button. This will take you to a new page or menu where the following options should be listed: Continue reading

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Is Grain Paleo?

grain-marketplace
Within the paleo community, grains are often deemed unhealthy processed foods that no human touched before the advent of industry. I believe we should stay away from rice, pasta, and bread as much as the next (paleo) person, but hear me out: not all grains are all that bad. In fact, according to archeological record and early ethnographic data collection, the cultivation of grain occurred far earlier than the industrial revolution as well as the agricultural revolution. Surprised? So was I. But here they are, in convenient list form for your reading pleasure, in no specific order:

Sorghum

Sorghum is a gluten free grain, often used today in gluten free baking as a replacement for pastry flour. It is not considered paleo in orthodox terms but has become a topic of discussion on message boards, forums, and blogs about the paleo diet; evidently, some paleo dieters use it in moderation or consider it “paleo friendly”.
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Top 10 Vegan-Friendly Eateries in The World

In my life, throughout my travels and time periods lived in foreign countries and in the USA, I have found hidden gems as well as better-known and/or popular vegan restaurants, food carts, etc.  I would like to share these establishments with fellow and prospective vegans, as well as anyone who might be interested in broadening their culinary/dietary/foodie horizons.  One stand-out restaurant is mentioned per category.

Latin

Gracias Madre – San Francisco, CA

gracias-madre-instagram

Photo credit: Yelp

100% vegan, local and organic. Committed to their love for food, the earth and the divine feminine, as well as consciousness-raising on the planet. The brainchild of Cafe Gratitude.

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Anti-Valentine’s Day: Let’s Celebrate

I’m not stoked about Valentine’s Day this year. Not because I’m single and bitter, but because it’s one of those Hallmark holidays that creates unnecessary anxiety. Plus, there’s usually way too much sugar involved…so it can’t be healthy on a physical level either. The solution? A festive Anti-Valentine’s Day party with a healthy menu that contains no added sugar, celebrated with friends or family, or a significant other if you have one. So let’s get started.

The Basics, aka Necessary Components for an Anti-Valentine’s Menu:

1. Bitter

Think bitter lettuce i.e. radicchio, endive, escarole, and chicory. Also, lettuces/greens that are considered weeds i.e. dandelion and other wild greens. If serving cocktails, you can’t go wrong with the stiff and bitter Old Fashioned– further reading: this article by Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark of the Cooking Channel food-travel series Tripping Out with Alie & Georgia.

2. Sour

Lemon is a must to accompany at least one dish.

3. Broken Heart

Artichoke hearts or heart of palm (broken or chopped, slivered, sliced, crushed, etc).

4. Skewered

This component is versatile; it can work in a dessert, entree or appetizer. For dessert, try strawberries or other red fruits that look like hearts, skewered on a stick… or with chocolate fondue. For an appetizer or entrée, vegan cheese fondue or veggie kabobs.

5. Blackened or Charred

For an entrée, try portabella mushroom steaks or blackened jerk seitan. I know seitan isn’t paleo, but it’s low carb…and in the context of hating on consumerism and stereotypical ideas about love– I couldn’t resist mentioning a word that bears such a close resemblance to “Satan”.

6. Bleeding

Blood oranges. Sangria (from the Spanish word sangre, which literally means blood). Blood-red heirloom tomatoes.

Having envisioned what would be the necessary components of a anti-valentine’s menu, I searched the web for stand-out vegan recipes that fit the criteria.

Anti-Valentine’s Day Menu

Starter

Burnt Sage and Blackberry Sangria (with bourbon) by Elana of Stir and Strain
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Purple Potato Salad with Avocado “Mayo” + Rosemary

Purple Potato Salad with Avocado Mayo
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

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