Heart of Palm “Carnitas” Lettuce Wraps

palm heart carnitas

Heart of Palm “Carnitas” Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

1 head red leaf lettuce, preferably wilted slightly

for the Heart of Palm “Carnitas”
1 14.5oz can or jar whole hearts of palm packed in water
1/2 medium onion
1 cup vegetable stock
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YAWP! (the redemption of the health bar)

slideshow_1YAWP! bars are the best thing to happen since…ever.

Since 2007 I have viewed all “energy bars” with disdain or else voiced ironic and original quotes (and often outright anger) regarding their place in “society” as glorified candy bars, or their infallible ridiculousness as a supposed health food. Continue reading

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Vegan Borscht + pumpkin seed sour cream

vegan-borscht
In college I worked at a global-fusion restaurant/cafe called Pangea that specialized in soups and natural/organic/locally-sourced ingredients. *If any of you dear readers go to Ashland, Oregon, definitely eat there. It even has a collection of coffee table books for your viewing pleasure, including What The World Eats, which I consider one of the best and most culturally-relevant photo essays ever made. I would’ve written a 5-star yelp review for Pangea but I don’t know if I can; I think yelp prohibits all employees (former included) from yelping about businesses they are or once were affiliated with.
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Jerk Tofu with Cranberry-Pepper Relish

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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.

jerk tofu2

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

Ingredients

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



Method

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.

jerk tofu

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Mint-Infused Berry Smoothie

mint-berry-smoothie

Mint helps to ease cramping and nausea. Sometimes during a detox or cleanse, the body responds with nausea or stomach cramping. While ginger stimulates, mint soothes. Both help in instances of food poisoning or the stomach flu; ginger stimulates the production of bile to move the undigested or offending substance through the system to provide eventual relief, while mint soothes the stomach (making the process less painful).



Mint-Infused Berry Smoothie

Ingredients

1 cup frozen raspberries
5 frozen strawberries
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 frozen banana
2 cups water
20 fresh spearmint leaves
1 lime (juiced)
a few drops liquid stevia extract, optional, to taste

Method

Combine berries with 1 cup water and purée until smooth. Add the banana, lime juice, and 1/2 the mint (10 leaves). Blend until smooth. Taste-test to determine whether to add more mint leaves. Adjust to your liking, blending after each addition. If desired, add a few drops liquid stevia extract.

Nutritional Info

Per serving (recipe serves 2): 120 Calories; 32 carbs; 1g fat; 2g protein; 9g fiber; 17g sugar.

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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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