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
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
Mason jars work like a charm, in many situations i.e. brown-bagging it to work (unless of course you have to go through a security scanner or your employer bans glass containers). Plastic gladware or tupperware containers fail miserably in comparison, in terms of functionality and sustainability…but if an anti-glassware policy is your office-environment predicament, this recipe can adapt to plastic.
1 7oz can whole fire roasted green chile peppers
4 roma tomatoes
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup cooked black beans
salt to taste, optional
In a cast-iron skillet, cook the tomatoes in 1/4 cup water. Add more water if necessary, making sure not to burn the tomatoes but allowing them to brown a little. Add the onions, and use a wooden spoon or spatula to create a paste. The mixture should resemble a thick sauce, but not a purée. This salsa/sauce is one of my favorite foods in the world, and I can’t take credit for the recipe. I tried it for the first time in San Marcos La Laguna, a village on the western shore of Lago Atitlán in the Sololá Department of Guatemala. The copy-cat version featured here pales in comparison I’m sure, but it’s my best attempt thus far.
Transfer the cooked tomato and onion mixture to a bowl. Add a bit more water to the skillet and begin to heat the roasted chiles. If the beans are not warmed yet, or if you are using a can, have them ready to heat after the chiles. Remove the heated chile peppers from the skillet, and place in a separate bowl or on a plate. Heat the beans if applicable. In a jar, layer the tomato sauce and chiles with a thin layer of beans.
Before I went vegan, I recall ordering nachos once or twice a year at a gas-station-turned Mexican restaurant called Cotija in my hometown which no longer exists. That place had the best chips and salsa known to man, and seeing it close down definitely tore at my heart with an intensity I rarely feel for anything greasy or devoid of nutrients. I once tried to eat a vegan donut from Voodoo Donut on a dare, but after three bites I felt pain in the roots of my teeth from all the sugar—and to be honest, I didn’t like it. I don’t know if it stems from my early attempts to cut out any and all unhealthy foods that I didn’t truly enjoy, thereby justifying little more than dark chocolate or the “Our Daily Red” (I think it was called) sulfite-free wine that I knew didn’t exactly improve my health but nonetheless seemed less harmful and more vegan than Sutter Home.
The predominant image that springs to mind when I think of nachos hails from 2004, on a band trip to Disneyland. Or was it the Washington, D.C. trip with band? Or the D.C. trip in junior high? I can’t recall. It couldn’t have been the band trip to Spain my senior year, considering I’d transitioned to vegan in 2005. Considering how many years and repressed memories have gone by since, I don’t blame myself for melding all of them together. However, one of the aforementioned unplaceable experiences involved nachos. With olives, guac, pico, black beans, jalapeño, and of course cheese. I think (unless I dreamt this) that I convinced the group in which I shared said plate of nachos to leave off the sour cream (since I could never stand it and thinking of it now almost triggers a gag reflux).
I’ve not always liked vegan “sour cream” either, but certain attempts (for example the one served at Vita Cafe in Portland) thankfully bear little resemblance to the real thing and I must admit I really did like…
…hence the non sour cream-esque flavor of the “crema” used in the recipe that follows.
Cheers to reminiscing about band trips, with a recipe for healthy, nutritionally sound nachos:
for the pico de gallo
5 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin powder
3 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
1 or 1/2 lime, juiced (size can vary, so adjust accordingly)
Make the pico first, before proceeding to the chips, the crema, or the guac. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, a jar, or other container; cover, and refrigerate.
for the cauliflower-sesame crema
2 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 cup raw hulled sesame seeds, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup water
ground pepper to taste
for the green pea guac
1 lb frozen green peas
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup cilantro
1-2 limes, juiced (size can vary, so adjust accordingly)
3/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper, or more to taste
Slice eggplant into rounds of 1/2 cm thickness. Cut each slice into a triangular shape (to mimic the appearance of tortilla chips). Cover a large plate with a paper towel. Spread eggplant triangles in 1 layer and cover with another paper towel. Press down on the eggplant to allow the paper towels to absorb some of the water, enabling the eggplant to cook more efficiently. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare the cauliflower-sesame cream: In a blender or food processor, combine the 2 cups cauliflower, 1/2 cup soaked sesame seeds, 1 garlic clove, 2 tablespoons lime juice, salt, water and pepper (optional). Transfer to a serving dish or container. Rinse blender or food processor to prep for the guacamole.
Transfer eggplant to a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, checking and/or rotating often. Add 1/2 cup frozen peas to an oven pan, disperse evenly, and bake for 5 minutes (while the eggplant chips continue to cook). Remove peas from oven (they should be hot but not charred) and immediately transfer to the ice bath. Strain, and transfer to the blender or food processor. Continue to check the eggplant (cook time should not exceed 30 minutes). To the blender, add all ingredients to the blender or food processor as listed above for the green pea guac. Blend until it reaches a guacamole-like consistency.
Once the chips de
velop a crisp texture, remove from oven and serve topped with the cauliflower-sesame crema, green pea guacamole, and pico de gallo.
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
The holidays make us prone to over-indulgence. I could go further, but I think that sentence more or less sums it up. Both recipes described below serve as prime examples of the “holiday detox” staples I swear by: oil free, starch-free vegetable stew and of course, green smoothies. More recipes ensue.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.Sure, 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:
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.
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).
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.
1 x 4″ piece ginger root, unpeeled, sliced
5 star anise pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups vegetable stock (see above recipe)
2 cups water
Simmer 20 minutes on medium heat
6 cups Asian-style vegetable broth (see above recipe)
2 x 8oz package fettuccine-style shirataki noodles.
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
chili garlic sauce
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.
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.