I love recipe makeovers. Last week I “made over” a Julia Child recipe. This week it’s Martha Stewart. Often recipes makeovers are easy, like in this case, where I only substituted stevia for the honey and lime for the lemon.
Originated from the Quechua ch’arki, the term “jerk” refers to dried protein. In the Andes aka the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, the protein in question was alpaca or cuy (guinea pig) meat.
In the Caribbean and in Afro-Caribbean culture, the term “jerk” generally refers to a spice blend used to season protein. On the Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica and Belize, you can sometimes find jerk tofu on the menu at local restaurants. From personal experience I can vouch for the existence of jerk-seasoned tofu cooked by locals as opposed to vegan expats in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and in Punta Gorda, Belize.
Etymology of jerk:
jerk (v.2) as a method of preserving meat, 1707, American English, from American Spanish carquear, from charqui (see jerky). Related: Jerked.
jerky (n.) 1850, American English, from American Spanish charqui “jerked meat,” from Quechua (Inca) ch’arki “dried flesh.”
Spanish spellings include charque and charqui, from which the English word jerky derives.
Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish
1 x 16oz package vacuum packed super-firm or extra-firm tofu *I used Nasoya, but in the past I’ve used Wildwood (I recommend using one of these brands for this recipe, if possible. I don’t have experience with other brands of vacuum-packed tofu). Tofu packed in water, or in any other sort of packaging other than vacuum-sealed, even when the label reads ‘super’ or ‘extra’ firm, has an entirely different texture and will not work for this recipe.
½ tsp curry powder (I used Trader Joe’s brand; ingredients: cumin, turmeric, coriander, chile pepper, mustard, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, red pepper, cinnamon, black pepper, and saffron)
½ tsp garam masala (I used Whole Foods’ brand; ingredients: black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander)
½ tsp caraway seed
1 tsp garlic, minced
3 drops stevia liquid or 1/16 tsp pure stevia powder
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/8 tsp salt (I used sea salt, but if I’d had it on hand I would have used pink Himalayan salt; that said, regular table salt would work just fine).
½ cup water
for the cranberry-pepper relish
½ cup dried cranberries
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp red pepper flakes
In a jar, combine all ingredients except for the tofu. Seal the jar, and shake to combine. Set aside.
Slice tofu into slabs of approximately 1cm thickness. Spread evenly onto a cookie sheet. Shake the jar before pouring 1/2 the marinade over the tofu cutlets. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Turn on the broiler to low, and proceed to cook the tofu. After 5-7 minutes, remove the tofu from the oven, flip, and evenly disperse the remaining marinade. Return tofu to the oven for 5-7 more minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the tofu to absorb the residual heat for 5 minutes.
Serve immediately, or let cool for no less than 10 minutes before storing in the refrigerator. In a tightly-sealed container, these jerk tofu cutlets will last 1 week approx.
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.
Thai-inspired Paleo Bowl
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
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.
Per serving: 100 Calories, 10g Fat, 200mg Potassium, 3g Sugar, 3g Carbs, 3g Fiber, 5g Protein.
The key to a detox or cleanse lies in the ability to eliminate unnecessary foods and substances. To cleanse from that bottle of Pinot Noir or the sweet potato fries at the hipster establishment you dined at yesterday with an unsuccessful date you paired with via OK-Cupid, you might find yourself at a loss for what to eat or drink while watching reruns of The O.C. and cursing your problems. That’s where easy breezy omni-dieting comes in handy. Continue Reading
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.
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
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.
The 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
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
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.
Entering 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:
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 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.
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
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.
Enjoy frequently, especially during flu season. Add fresh-cut lime as a garnish, to improve the flavor and increase the Vitamin C content.
Lately 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.
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.
Gracias Madre – San Francisco, CA
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.
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:
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.
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).
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”.
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.