Roasted Asparagus Bisque + Cauliflower-Coconut Croutons

This Roasted Asparagus Soup with Paleo Croutons is very low in carbohydrates, and contains a lesser amount of fat per gram than most blended soups. I’ve focused a lot on coconut milk-blended soups this winter, the both of which contained a much higher quantity of the aforementioned high-fat ingredient than this one. Continue reading

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Cauliflower-Cashew Creamed Spinach + Roasted Tomatoes

Cauliflower cashew creamed spinach

Creamed spinach is one of those recipes that seems mutually exclusive with vegan or paleo, perhaps first made popular by Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Now a steakhouse staple across the United States, creamed spinach is traditionally made with heavy cream and butter. This significantly lighter version does utilize a relatively high-fat ingredient [cashews] but the bulk of the “cream” is a virtually fat-free vegetable [cauliflower]. Continue reading

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Beet & Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

beet and red cabbage kraut

Beet & Red Cabbage Sauerkraut especially when paired with avocado is a food often touted in the same respect as cheese *both have probiotic qualities—and since the advent of the raw vegan sauerkraut phoenomenon—both have a veil surrounding them regarding the fallacy of their difficult-to-make-yourself psychological red tape [we think we can’t make it ourselves, or aren’t supposed to]. Continue reading

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Spicy Sautéed Kale with Lime

spicy kale with lime
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.
Continue reading

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Cooking Smart: Brussels Sprouts + Greens

brussels sprouts green kale

One thing you can do to significantly reduce your bill = cook smart. Whether your stove is gas or electric, or if you’re in a tent in the woods with only one match: here’s how you do it.

Object Lesson A: Brussel sprouts and greens
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Let’s say you have brussels sprouts and some greens that have wilted slightly and/or would taste much more satisfying cooked. You have a pot to cook in with a lid, and a knife of some sort.

Trim brussels sprouts of any soiled leaves. If you have a knife, chop off the base of the sprouts (which can tend to be dirty).

Boil sprouts in enough water to cover them. Cover with lid to bring water to a boil more quickly. Once the water begins to boil, lift the lid and add a few shakes of salt if you have it. This will help tenderize the sprouts and reduce overall cooking time. Boil covered for 6-12 minutes. If you like them a bit softer, err on the side of 12.




Turn off heat and remove sprouts with a spoon or strainer, leaving the vegetable water in the pot. Immediately throw your greens into the pot. Cover with lid, allowing the heat from the water/vapor to cook the greens. The salt in the water will also tenderize the greens, allowing them to cook quickly and serve while the brussels sprouts are still warm. Serve with the broth/leftover water to warm your insides and to maximize nutrient intake. The brussels sprouts and broth taste taste delicious as is, but also when lightly seasoned with lemon juice and black pepper.

brussels sprouts greens brussels sprouts and kale brussels sprouts and greens

More Cooking Smart recipes to follow…

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Petits Pois A La Francaise

green pea lettuce kale salad

I can hardly believe I’m actually attempting this recipe. Typically made with butter and chicken broth, petits pois a la francaise was never been on my list of things to veganize…until today. Continue reading

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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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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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Vegetable Broth + Paleo Vegan Pho

National Blog Posting Month, Nov 10 prompt: What knowledge do you have that others don’t? Write a “how to” post about anything you’ve got skills for, small or large.vegetable-broth-101Sure, you can buy it by the carton. It’s less of a hassle than running around the produce department, gathering carrots, parsnips, celery, etc., only to return home and realize you’ve forgotten the onions or another key ingredient. We’ve all been there with some recipe or another. However, store-bought vegetable broth contains too much salt in my opinion–while the low-sodium kind lacks flavor. With a bit of planning and mere minutes of prep time, it’s easy to make your own. I guarantee you’ll notice an improvement in the flavor and body of soups and stews. More elaborate recipes might have ingredients you don’t recognize (which won’t be the case at the end of this tutorial. More on that later). We’ll start with a basic, unintimidating recipe that utilizes everyday ingredients for use as a prototype for more complex broths and stocks in the future. When I’m short on time, this is my go-to recipe:

Basic Vegetable Broth

Makes approximately 2 quarts
Tip: Don’t peel anything or discard the scraps. Things like the tops of carrots or celery, stems, etc. contribute to the flavor and nutritional value of the broth/stock. Obviously, discard any spoiled or rotten parts.

Ingredients

1 gallon water
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, minced
1 cup carrot, chopped
2 cups tomato, quartered
1 medium bell pepper, cut
2 cups parsnip, chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 whole peppercorn
1 tsp red pepper flakes (like the kind they give you at pizza restaurants)
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Add all ingredients to a large stock pot. Bring to a full boil and reduce to simmer. Lower the heat to medium-low to continue cooking (covered, to maintain the flavors and vitamin content of the vegetables) until the liquid is reduced by half.

Pour broth through a filter/sieve/colander, with a bowl or pot underneath it that is larger than the circumference of the filter (to avoid wasting any broth).

Asian-Style Vegetable Broth

asian-style-soup-broth
Using the basic vegetable broth recipe as a base, you only need a few more ingredients to emulate the flavors of a Chinese-style noodle soup or traditional Vietnamese pho. You can experiment with combinations of different ingredients, so the following are merely suggestions or guidelines. I recommend using ginger in all combinations if you can. As with any broth recipe–you don’t need to peel the root since you’ll remove it before serving/adding the noodles and toppings.

Ingredients

1 x 4″ piece ginger root, unpeeled, sliced
5 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
ginger-rootcinnamon-sticksstar-anise
4 cups vegetable stock (see above recipe)
2 cups water

Method

Simmer 20 minutes on medium heat

Paleo Vegan Pho

vegan-pho

Ingredients

6 cups Asian-style vegetable broth (see above recipe)
2 x 8oz package fettuccine-style shirataki noodles.

Toppings

4 scallions or green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced. Remove the seeds for less heat.
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
4 Tbsp vegetarian “fish sauce”, found in Asian markets, natural food stores, some conventional grocery stores, and online. *However, many of these brands contain preservatives and food coloring/caramel color, and even the natural brands contain sugar. Vegetarian “fish sauce” is very easy to make with all natural ingredients & no added sugar:

Combine 1/4 Tbsp pure powdered stevia extract OR 12-18 drops Stevia Liquid Concentrate (for more info, see the Stevia Conversion Chart) with 1 cup warm water + 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice (if you use fresh, I’m totally impressed) and 1 cup 2 Tbsp low-sodium tamari or 1 Tbsp regular tamari. You can also use conventional soy sauce like Kikoman brand if you’re not worried about the additives. When I’m traveling or living abroad it tends to be the only thing available, anyway :)

fresh cilantro, shredded
fresh Thai basil leaves
lime wedges
chili garlic sauce

Method

In a large pot over medium heat, add the ginger, star anise and cinnamon sticks to 4 cups vegetable broth (diluted with 2 cups water) and simmer about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare shirataki noodles according to package instructions.

Reduce heat to low and remove the ginger, star anise, and cinnamon. Stir in 4 Tbsp vegetarian fish sauce and let simmer on low for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Drain shirataki noodles and divide among 4 bowls. Top with broth, scallions, cilantro, basil leaves, jalapeno, red onion, and bean sprouts. Serve with chili garlic sauce and lime wedges.

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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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