On Nutrition, part 1: Omegas and Sound Eating

Most of you, I am sure, are well aware of the benefits of a vegan diet. However, it seems like there tends to be more emphasis on the amazing wonders of vegan junk food, and not so much on the basic elements. Now I am absolutely in no way what-so-ever saying that your food has to be bland and boring and tasteless, or that you should be cooking out of a vegetarian or vegan book from the 1970's (or even 15 years ago). What I am saying is that that more emphasis should be placed on the nutritional sound-ness of a meal. Incorporate some form of green into your main dish. Try to eat from as much freshly prepared food as possible (I know this may be hard for some of us- believe me, it gets hard on my end too at times!) Enjoy dessert or baked items on the weekends rather than every nite.

This morning while I was drinking my daily cup of coffee at work, I stumbled upon an article
proclaiming the health benefits of Omega 3's. However, it also decried the abundance of Omega 6's in the SAD, due to the change in animals' diets. The author called Omega 3's spring fats, because they are abundant in green vegetables, and Omega 6's fall fats because they are abundant in seeds, nuts, all things we use to fill ourselves up with. While the article is written from an omnivorous point of view, I feel that it is important to know what you are putting into you body and how your body processes it, and leafy greens of all sorts are highly emphasised. Vegans certainly do not eat fat-fed animals, but almost all of us eat greens and seeds/nuts. This is simply telling you which is better for you, what you can eat more of, and why. Frank and I eat some form of green with our dinner every nite. Whether it be incorporated into the dish, sauteed with garlic or chili and liquid smoke on the side (especially brilliant with collards), or as a huge bowl of salad, the green element is always there. And! Would you believe that Broccoli Rabe is better for you than Kale? Yes, you heard me right. For a break down of leafy green nutrition, check out the following information, courtesy of Nutritiondata.com:
Broccoli Rabe
Collard Greens
Swiss Chard

Whole grains, and a variety of them, are also usually a part of our meal. These too, are very high in Omega's and other fantastic minerals, most notably, calcium. I used to eat far less grains back when I was single, but even then it was the miraculous quinoa (which is actually a seed) for it's health benefits. Over the last year, I have added to my brown rice and quinoa regime the likes of black rice, millet and wheat berries, and also brought back bulgur and barley. Most of these are incredibly inexpensive in bulk, especially millet (which is very high in Omega 3's) and wheat berries. At Whole Foods in Union Square of all places, organic millet is $1.19 / pound and wheat berries are 0.89 cents /pound! Soak them when you leave the house in the morning, cook them as you are preparing the rest of your dish, and you have yourself a grain that cooks in the same amount of time as rice. Once again, the break-down:
Brown Rice

I know that this may seem like a lot to take in all at once, and I hope that this has helped to put a new twist on some things for everyone reading. I really like to get to the nitty gritty behind my passions, and this is definitely one of them. Being a healthy vegan while still enjoying my veganism is very important to me and should be to you as well. Now I say to you, be creative with these items and more! I have only focused on what I consider to be the basis and staples of most meals, so they are yours for embellishing as you wish. As I noted above, collards are delicious cooked with a bit of chili powder and liquid smoke. Stick them on the side of a black eyed pea Texas caviar, or stuff them into tofu omelets. Brussels sprouts taste amazing when cooked with a bit of sesame oil, Chinese 5 spice powder and roasted peppers. Broccoli rabe is wonderful with lots of garlic and cherry tomatoes mixed in. And so on and so forth... the kitchen is yours to take on!

Not Meat and Not Potatoes

'What?' You may be asking. 'Not meat AND not potatoes? And to that, I reply, 'Oh yes'.

Meat substitutions are fairly common in the vegan/vegetarian diet, but so are potatoes in all of their potato goodness. So what stands in their place when you decide you would like a break from them? Turnips. Ah, the almighty turnip. They were a part of our CSA share last week, and basically inspired the whole mea

'Why not make mashed turnips and gravy, with brussels sprouts and a 'meaty' side?', I questioned out loud to Frank. The reply was very much in favor of such an idea, so that's what I did. Now I must say that I relied on old cookbook friends to help me along with parts of this meal, simply because I'm not a vegan meat and potatoes type of eater, and neither is Frank. In fact, as we were eating, I realized that I only eat these types of meals at holiday tables.

The turnips from the CSA were so fresh and delicious that all I did to them was boil and puree with a bit of almond milk. No peeling, no oil, no butter, no seasonings... and very very good. You may have to alter this based on the freshness of your turnips, but I highly recommend that you go out RIGHT NOW and get yourself some. You will like them. If they are good enough for Peter Cottontail, they are certainly good enough for you.

The meat and gravy were culled from
Veganomicon and Vegan With a Vengeance. The ever-popular chickpea cutlets were used as our meat analogue of choice, and, because Frank and I are cooking for my family at Thanksgiving, we gave the Punk Rock Chickpea Gravy a spin. It's amazing! On its own, on turnips, and on chickpea cutlets, it is quite the gravy.

Be prepared to spend some time putting this meal together; I recommend a cold damp day with records like Rockpile's
Seconds of Pleasure on the turntable. Simple, yet catchy and brilliant. Just like the meal itself.

Exotic Foods # 2: Kohlrabi

This week in our CSA haul we received kohlrabi. Now once again, one has to ask, 'what do I do with kohlrabi aside from putting it in a salad?' Well the answer my friends is... not too much, but enough. Whether you are creative and decide upon your own treatment or simply let Epicurious be your guide, you can find a smattering of kohlrabi recipes that will prove to be vegan and/or vegan-izeable. But first, a fine nutritional word on our humble kohlrabi. According to learninginfo.org, kohlrabi,

'... is a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium and phosphorus, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, copper, manganese and especially vitamin C. One cup of raw kohlrabi contains 140% of the RDA of vitamin C'.

Not too shabby, right? For those of you who are still skeptics, a detailed breakdown that is pretty impressive looking can be found here.

Feeling a bit un-inspired with this vegetable, we took on the task of making Sauteed Kale and Kohlrabi the finished product from the September issue of Gourmet Magazine. The recipe calls for a traditional garlic and olive-oil treatment of the kale, but brings in a splash of lime juice, zest, and pistachios for brightness. The kohlrabi, while left raw, is warmed when the hot kale is mixed in the bowl. We have greens with our meal just about every nite, and are always looking for new ways of working with them. Unfortunately at times, it is hard for both vegans and omnivores alike to come up with new dishes that hit home. Greens, no matter how mild or strong, are difficult to season properly without either over-seasoning with something like garlic or under-seasoning and making everything bland. While the dish was okay in our eyes, we were not terribly struck by it. When I was able to taste it, the kale-lime combination was great, and the kohlrabi really picked up the flavor of the citrus as well. However, I felt that more lime would have been the key to really make everything pop. This means that you have to try the dish with MORE lime and let me know how it is! Frank and I paired this dish with quinoa, to make it into a complete 'k' sounding meal. Say it with me: Kale, Kohlrabi, and Quinoa.
The complete recipe, ripe for modifications, may be found on the Epicurious website: Sauteed Kale and Kohlrabi.

Our finished product looked a bit like this:

Vegan Mofo: The New York Vegan 100

There have been different '100' lists floating around for about a year now, but Melissa Bastian of New York in Green, created her own Vegan 100 for our humble city, New York. Being a New Yorker myself, I decided to post it all here for you, with additions of my own at the bottom of the post.

Melissa says this:
'Like the other vegan lists, these are foods that you simply must try (whether or not you're vegan, really). This list actually also incorporates some eating experiences - settings and such. But the main difference? These are in New York! Get it? See? It's regional.

Should you feel the urge (and I hope you do), copy this list and just go ahead and tell us. Have you eaten it / been there / done that? Do you want to? Would you do it again? For my fellow New Yorkers, or those who live close enough to get into town reasonably often, answer away and please put a link to your answers in the comments! To those who just love to visit, answer as well, and maybe this list will be a good reference for the next time you get over this way. Even if you've never been here, tell us how it all sounds to you!'

The ones I have eaten are in red, for clarity (and flair...). So without further ado... here we go!

1. cornbread at Angelica's Kitchen -Mmm, the Angelica's Cornbread is the best. And it's not even corn! I have made it :)
2. the Zen slice at Viva Herbal (2nd Ave) - Oh yes.
3. lemongrass seitan on rice vermicelli at Lan Cafe - I have only been to Lan once and did not have this.
4. cake batter soft serve ice cream at Lula's Sweet Apothecary - - What?! No. Grrr.
5. Vegan Treats' Peanut Butter Bomb cake - Yes... it happens to be Frank's favorite.
6. the "Penny Lick" at Penny Licks - Sadly, no. I deprive myself of dessert.
9. coconut tofu soup at Pukk - no again...
10. camarones y coco at Vegetarian Paradise 2 - I will not try something vegan that I never liked omni.
11. crab rangoon at Red Bamboo - see above.
12. medu vadi at Madras Cafe - Mmmm... Madras...
13. dinner at Hangawi - It was supposed to happen, but it has not happened yet.
14. wings at Foodswings - I've had them fried and grilled, but I'm much more all for the grilled ones. There are better though...
15. vegetarian combo at Awash - I have never been to Awash. Someday.
16. nutmeats from Bonobos - Mmmm.... Bonobos... one of the best go-to staple restaurants of all time. The sundried tomato Macadamia nutmeat is superb.
17. sunflower lentil pate at Sacred Chow - I have only had the breakfast sandwich. It was tasty!
18. white chocolate wonderful peanut butter from Peanut Butter & Co. - Amazingly sinful.
19. Sweet & Sara marshmallows with toasted coconut - too expensive for a random treat, and I'm not a huge marshmallow fan.
20. ginormous lollypop from Dylan's Candy Bar - I am afraid of going in there and being eaten by children.
21. seitan scallopini at Blossom - For my birthday! Excellent!
22. baked veg meat bun at Buddha Bodai - No. As you can see, I don't eat out much.
23. Thanksgiving dinner (prix fix) at a vegan restaurant - No, I Thanksgiving is always at someone's house.
24. fresh apple cider at the Union Square Greenmarket - Oh yes.
25. "turkey" salad from Sunen Foods - No...
26. red sonjas at Mundo (in Astoria) - I have not been to this restaurant, but if they have vegan items and I happen to be in Astoria, then I will try it.
27. sausage roll from Vinnie's on Bedford - Grrr... I say every time that I am going to try it, but I haven't. Get a Vegan Farmer's Daughter pizza and don't tell me that I didn't warn you.
28. a dragon bowl at Bliss on Bedford - The best simple comfort food ever is the one at bliss and the one at Angelica.
29. a Red Bamboo soul chik'n sandwich purchased at the Bamn Automat - have not been to the Automat.
30. ravioli of the day at Caravan of Dreams - We ate at Caravan during a recent raw detox, so no ravioli
31. spaghetti squash spaghettini at Counter - Counter is not liked by Frank, so now I have never had this dish.
32. some teeny tiny ridiculously overpriced "entree" at Pure Food & Wine- Intrigued, but scared of spending 200 dollars.
33. ramen at Souen on 6th - have never been.
34. dumplings at Franchia - no...
35. the vegan panini at 'sNice - Yes. Very tasty.
36. chocolate hazelnut ice cream at Stogo - I have tried it in sample form... that counts, right?
37. a falafel pita with way too many crazy toppings at Maoz - Falafel is dangerous, so now I have not.
38. black sesame sweet tofu (soft serve) at Kyotofu - no... I'm boring...
40. an Ess-a-Bagel bagel with their tofu cream cheese - Not Ess-a-Bagel. The bagel store on Bedford or on Metropolitan. Multigrain everything with sundried tomato cream cheese will blow your mind.
41. brunch at Curly's Vegetarian Lunch - This was a staple for a while... we all liked it.
42. grits and a sake bloody mary at Old Devil Moon - missed out before they closed. Plus, I don't do grits.
43. peanut butter and banana sandwich at Think Coffee - Nope.
44. bad service with an attitude at Kate's Joint - Oh yes. Can we say 2.5 hours to spend in there, 1.5 of it waiting, for a meal for three?
45. Melissa Bastian's veg lasagna and red velvet cupcakes - I have never had Melissa's. But I've made my own, and I like them.
46. a fig and almond cake purchased at Dean & Deluca, the big one on Spring Street - no, but I like figs AND almonds.
47. pulled sugar candies from Papabubble - I still have not ventured in.
48. bean curd and broccoli from a Chinese takeout place that has lightup pictures on the wall of its main entrees - slightly frightening to me.
49. a plate of goodness from Veggie Castle - I've been here how long? Too long? Yes. Veggie Castle? No.
50. beers at the Brooklyn Brewery - It's 10 minutes on foot from me! Yes, all the time!
51. seitan satay sticks at Tien Garden - I think Frank has ordered them. I definitely know their amazing sauce.
52. zucchini fries at the Organic Grill - The menu to here turned me off because they have too many eggs on it.

53. Sake lemonade at Goodbye Blue Monday - I have never been because it's annoying for me to get to, even if it *is* technically in my neighborhood.
54. lhasa momos at Tsampa - no...
55. dinner with 4 course vegan - not yet, but soon.
56. a burrito from Benny's - Yes, they are quite great!
57. a vegan meal at one of Flushing Chinatown's veg restaurants - Yup. Before Macca at Citifield.
58. a pleasing experience at House of Vegetarian - Not yet
59. shark fin soup at Vegetarian Dim Sum House - A) I have not been. B) see answers to veggie seafood questions earlier on.
60. rice at Rice - Yes.
61. omusubi at Oms/b - No, I did not even know about this place.
62. pakora at Seva - Have not been.
63. bread from Balthazar bakery - Mmm... yes, I have had their bread. It's amazing.
64. Vegan Drinks at Angels & Kings - I say I'm going every month, and then I never do.
65. something accidentally vegan at Zen Burger - Once again, have not been.
66. the vegetarian appetizer combo plate at Bread & Olive - I used to pass by there all the time, does that count?
67. that funky triangle of tofu sitting in soy sauce from a bodega salad bar - GROSS.
68. Entenmann's individual apple pie (the kind in a little paper pouch) - Yes, but not for years now.
69. fresh fruit and/or vegetable juice from a juice cart on the street - Not from on the street...
70. knishes at Yonah Schimmel - One of my favorite Old New York experiences.
71. the "Elvis" (peanut butter and banana) at Papa's Empanadas - kill me, that sounds amazing...
72. a soft pretzel from a cart on the street, with mustard - Ufnfortunately, I have tried a bit someone elses'. Horrible.
73. nuts for nuts! - no.
74. sorbet from Caio Bella - Mmmm... very good.
75. cornmeal crusted tofu at Spring Street Natural - Oh yes! It was fantastic.
76. mango slices that have been arranged on a stick to look like a flower in bloom - I have always wanted to walk around with a mango bouquet...
77. zeppoli from a street fair - not since I was a kid, and never in the city.
78. funnel cake in Coney Island that you watched them fry - no.
79. pommes frites from a paper cone - no.
80. the Mexican chocolate milkshake at Curly's - I did not even know they served this... it's been a while
81. the Bandeja Paisa at The V-Spot - Yes! Well a bite of someone else's, anyways. It was great!
82. an accidentally vegan falafel, rice, and chickpea platter from a Halal food cart - no/
83. Thai iced tea at Pukk - not at Pukk, but at Wild Ginger. Excellent.
84. ice cream cookie sandwich at Stogo - not yet.
85. V-Spot empanadas purchased somewhere other than V-Spot - I had my first taste for free at the Veggie Pride parade.
86. pasta with marinara in Little Italy - A very good thing...
87. Quinoa pasta at V-Spot - not yet...
88. a slice of vegan cake while waiting for a band to start playing in the basement of Cake Shop - I haven't had the cake, but I've seen the bands and had the coffee. All in all, a good experience.
89. your breakfast on the subway - Sometimes... if a Larabar or Raw Revolution counts.
90. a picnic in Central Park - I have done that with just me.
91. dark chocolate bark from The Chocolate Room (Park Slope) - no.
92. black coffee from the bodega- One of my strict rules: No Bodega Coffee.
93. a soy hot chocolate from Oren's Daily Roast - Have not been.
94.mango maki at Tanaka - see above.
95. dim sum at Buddha Bodai - no...
96. pierogi in or from Greenpoint - Considering that it's my stomping ground, yes! Sauerkraut and Shroom are the best! And they should never cost more than 3.50 or have nasty preservatives in them.
97. a cheeseless pizza or Siciliana from Rizzo's -no.
98. marzipan from a bakery in Astoria - Not from Astoria, but from Fortunato Brothers! Best coffee, marzipan, and sorbet around.
99. a soy latte from the Starbucks on Roosevelt Island - I have actually worked there, so yes.
100. lunch pieced together from the salad and hot food bars at the Food Emporium beneath the 59th Street Bridge - not that FE, but one close by

THE END. I am going to add the following in:
Iced Coffee from Caffe Capri on Graham Ave
Hemp Latte at Beaner Bar on Graham Ave
Green Juice with a wheatgrass shot added in from Earthmatters
Borscht in Brighton Beach
Beer on the LIRR or out of a paper bag during Siren Fest at Coney Island
Any meal / dessert at Rockin' Raw on N. 8th
Raw pizza from Adelina on E. 17th st
the vegan carrot raisin cookie from the Union Square Green Market
vegan rugelach from Lily's homestyle bakery
Going into Sahadi's, spending 30 dollars, and walking away with nuts, olives, etc to last for months
Dinner at Vatan
Peanuts, chips and salsa, Lone Star, and bands at Rodeo Bar
Vegan White Russians
Bella Vegan Milkshake from Foodswings
Bread from Sullivan St. Bakery (better if you've made their no knead yourself, right after it appeared in the NYT)
Juice at Liquiteria post Yoga To The People yoga session
Pickles, Sauerkraut and pickled green tomatoes from Guss' on Orchard
Eating only 1 brownie from Babycakes

Squash Dish #2: Apple Pumpkin Risotto with Carmelized Onions

Every time there is a vegan *something* in a decent not-necessarily vegan magazine, word gets around. Doubly if it happens to be by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, whose name and recipes you have seen on this blog at least a few times. To close off the final pieces of Minneapolis, I found the latest issue of BUST magazine at The Wedge and promptly added it it to the grocery haul due to news of a Moskowitz recipe in its pages. Well, allow both Frank and I to tell you first hand: it rocks. Warm, satisfying, perfectly spiced. wow. We used a beautiful pumpkin from the CSA and substituted barley for the arborio rice, just to get in a bit more fiber. It was the perfect meal for a chilly, damp October day.Tomorrow Frank and I are going to jump into the throes of making vegan sugar skulls to give out to my piano students for Halloween. Pictures and dirty details to follow...

Minneapolis, Part 2

I believe that I left off after out fantastic adventure to Ecopolitan. Unfortunately for you all we did not do much more eating out, but we did explore the city a bit more and managed to throw together a fantastic parting meal at our friends' house. We were unexpectedly doused with about 4 inches of snow from Sunday evening into Monday morning, and thus our flight was pushed back until Tuesday morning. Sunday nite we went to the Twins vs. Yankees game, a monumental game since the Twins are moving into a new stadium next season, and Frank and I are *not* Yankees fans (and in fact, I'm not much of a baseball fan at all... I much prefer my old standby Buffalo Sabres). There were over 54,000 people there!
snow snow snow


Afterwards we went and ate at Sawatdee, but I have no pictures to prove it. However I will tell you that the hot and sour soup is some of the best that Frank and I have tasted- it is extremely spicy and vinegar-y and packed with a huge array of vegetables, from broccoli and cauliflower to cabbage and mushrooms. I highly recommend it!

Monday was spent enjoying our extra day exploring Minneapolis / St. Paul a bit more. Even though it's not food, I figure that this picture is appropriate because it's *almost* food:

Walker Sculpture Garden

Dinner Monday was an array of our left over grilled vegetables from Friday and a few fresh ones, all put together in a stir-fry with sesame noodles that Amanda made, and accompanied by miso soup. Very nice for a cold nite, and a great ending to a fantastic trip.
Grilled sweet potato, onion, eggplant and zucchini

Fresh vegetables to mix in

The stir-fry being, uh, stirred by Frank

Minneapolis Round-Up, Pt1

As promised, I am here to provide an overview of the trip that Frank and I took last weekend to Minneapolis. We stayed with his wonderful friend Jonathon. his lovely girlfriend Amanda, and their two dogs Newey (shaggy and black) and Sophie (adorable wiener who never grew to full-size). Newey is quite the ham and would pose for any picture. Sophie on the other hand...

Friday we did a bit of vintage shopping (as mentioned previously), and went to a fantastic co-op called The Wedge. Not only was it huge and packed with great selections, but their prepared food and bakery area was a vegan dream come true. For lunch, Frank and I had the avocado burritos and a side of Bengali greens. I wish I had pictures of these, but unfortunately, we ate them too fast! However, we did pick up some amazing dessert for later in the evening.

First up, the Black Forest cupcake. I am not a huge fan of chocolate cake, but this was moist, not too sweet, and the cherry/ganache combo was fantastic. Talk about a beauty!

Frank chose to be a little less indulgent and try the berry streusel pie. I am a huge fan of mixed berries, and after trying it, I wished I had ordered that instead. But never fear, he let me have two bites :)

We both decided to try the peanut butter balls, which as you see, look beautiful as well. While they were good- the Wedge mixes in soy protein and crispy rice cereal for texture- we both decided that we like my aunt's peanut butter balls better for their no-frills delicious-ness.

Saturday was spent at the awesome Pavek Museum of Broadcast, which, if you a nerds about records and music and recorded sound like we are, is a true treat. You can see anything there, from old Edison record players to news ticker machines and every sort of radio crystal and tube known to man. Our tour guide was an extremely knowledgeable man named Richard who answered all of our questions and them some. If you ever end up that way, go!
Ear food. Aka a wax cylinder record player.

Saturday evening we all went to Ecopolitan for an amazing raw dinner. Ecopolitan is pretty much *the* place for a decently priced, delicious raw/vegan meal, and I was very impressed. We started off with two appetizers, the Cashew Cheese Log and the special of the day, stuffed mushrooms. The cheese log, which was rolled in basil, olives, and sundried tomatoes, and served with balsamic onions and flatbread, was nothing short of amazing. The stuffed mushrooms were filled with a sundried tomato spread and dehydrated for warmth and texture. Also another winner!
Cashew cheese log

Stuffed Mushrooms

For dinner, we all ordered very different dishes, from salad with curry pate to Thai curried noodles. Amanda had the salad, which was topped with a huge scoop of curried pate:

Jonothan had an amazing-looking Red Avocado pizza, which was topped with tons of sprouts, pine nuts, etc etc. He gave it rave reviews all around:

Frank ordered thai curry noodles, which were delicious! The noodles were a combination of zucchini, daikon, and parsnip, topped with green curry, coconut, and pineapple.

I ordered the lasagna plate, which came with a side of the spiciest and tastiest kim-chi any of us had ever tried, and a piece of oat focaccia. I am not a fan of cooked lasagna because I find it too heavy, but this was just right, both in terms of size and density.

And lastly, for dessert, we all shared the parfait, which should really be called The Parfait that is As Big as Your Head. Fresh whipped fruit paired with a coconut- grain crumble- wow.

There's more Minneapolis in store, but I will leave you with the picture of that glorious parfait, which honestly, couldn't be a better way to exit.

Soupy Reds and Leafy Greens

As I mentioned before, the time of the year for soup and other warming foods has arrived, and I think most of us will agree, MUCH too quickly for our liking. Since the beginning of October I have made 3 soups/stews for Frank and I to eat. As I was looking back over everything, I noticed that they were all red, vibrant soups, and quite tasty as well. So today, I present a pictoral view of our three red soups. And as a bonus for feeling guilty about not blogging over our trip, I will give you a full recipe for one of the soups, and the recipe for the accompanying greens that I made. Man, I sound like a horrible infomercial...

First up was the Smoky Red Beans and Peppers Gumbo from Veganomicon. A hearty, rich blend of kidney beans, roasted red peppers, liquid smoke, spices, and okra, this was a definite winner for both Frank and myself. Frank took on the task of making this, and did so with great success. We had been talking about making okra for ages and never got around to doing so- with this recipe, we did! Bonus points for it being easy and simple, even with roasting your own red peppers, which Frank did. If you have never roasted your own peppers over a gas burner on your stove, I highly recommend it. Simply place the pepper down on the burner and turn occasionally with tongs. Much easier and less work than clearing out your oven for the job.

Last nite we ventured into the land of chili, making Vintage Vegan Potter's latest MoFo post. We left out the TVP since it was not on hand and lessened the amount of chili powder because I have an insanely hot version from Patel Brothers, but all in all, a decent success! I also tried to get a worthy picture of it, since she was not able to. This was served with the first recipe that I am going to dish up for you all, and I will call it:

Spicy Mustard-Dressed Greens

1/4 - 1/3 c. cubed daikon radish (oooh! another recipe!)
1/2 inch length of fresh ginger, minced
1 large jalapeno, diced finely
1 green Italian pepper, diced finely
13 brussel sprouts, sliced into coin-shaped pieces
8 leaves swiss chard, torn
1/2 c. water

For the sauce:
3 Tbsp mustard (I used 2 yellow and 1 dijon)
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 c. water


In a medium skillet over medium heat, steam saute daikon and peppers until beginning to soften. Add greens and cover with lid, cooking until greens begin to wilt, about 5 minutes. Uncover and add in 1/2 cup of water, scraping up any browned or stuck bits. Cook for another 5 - 7 minutes. Your done-ness indicator will be the tenderness of your brussel sprouts.

While the greens are cooking, prepare mustard sauce. When the greens are done, stir in mustard sauce to coat and warm through. Remove from heat immediately and serve. The whole meal should look like this:


Before we left for Minneapolis (pictoral follow up to come tomorrow, when I have time!), I threw together a soup to have waiting for us when we came back. I simply took some root vegetables (beets, carrots, potatoes) from the CSA and put them together with panch phoran, which I am always looking to use more in cooking. The result was a silky, hearty soup with a slight hint of exotic spice. I blended half and left half in chunks for texture, but you could also blend the entire pot. Here is the recipe:

Spiced Root Vegetable Soup
1 leek, washed, trimmed, and cut
2 Tbsp panch phoran
1-2 tsp ground ginger (to taste)
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 cups water
1 pound beets, cut into a small dice
5 - 6 large carrots, cut into a small dice
1.5 pounds new potatoes, cut into a small dice
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp tamari
2 15.5 oz cans chickpeas, optional


Bring a medium sauce pan with water to boil. When water is boiling add in beets and cook until tender, about 30-35 minutes. Drain when finished and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, heat oil and panch phoran, cooking until spice is fragrant and toasted. Add leeks, and cook for another 5 - 7 minutes. When leeks are soft, add in remaining ingredients through tamari. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.

Let soup mixture cool a bit before blending. You can either mix all of the vegetables together to blend, or reserve some of the soup vegetables. (I mixed in some beets to the soup while taking out some of the carrots, potatoes, and leeks. So in the end, I had a chunky mixture of beets, carrots, potatoes, and leeks. All of these were stirred in after blending). Place the soup you would like to blend into the blender, and process until smooth and silky. When finished blending, put back in pot, stir in remaining vegetables, and add in chickpeas, if desired. Taste for spices and enjoy!

This is best served with garlic pita bread or polenta sticks. Yum!

Vegan Mofo: Greetings from Minneapolis! (aka Goodbye Gourmet)

I took a few days off from writing on here, as Frank and I are in Minneapolis staying with some friends. Look out for pictures early next week, when I provide a pictoral round-up of the important things that we did / encountered. So far, we have done a bit of vegetable grilling (right before the first snowfall of the season!) and vintage shopping, always two favorable things, considering that living in Brooklyn makes it hard to have a grill and finding vintage clothes that fit my newly diminished size at my local Brooklyn haunts has also proven to be difficult. Never fear- Buffalo Exchange in Minneapolis to the rescue!

In order to provide you with an adequate posting today, I am going to bring up the demise of Gourmet Magazine. Now, I know that this magazine never was anything CLOSE to being vegan, but there were often surprise recipes that could be found or easily converted into vegan choices if one chose to do so. As someone who is always looking for creative inspiration, I always read Gourmet when I was able to get my hands on it, and in recent months have taken to exploring the website for ideas for our CSA veggies. Others in the food-writing world have argued that the demise of Gourmet is the end of an era, as it really paved the way for food magazines, and more luxurious home cooking / appreciation of food and good living in general. Look at the evolution of vegan cookbooks- I honestly believe that if a magazine such as Gourmet was not in existence and people were not inspired by creative food treatments, there would not be the rise in creative vegan cooking that has come forth in the last 10 years. Honestly, it is quite incredible! So without further rambling, I am going to present to you guess-what-they're-vegan recipes for mixing and matching full-course meals, an article on vegan baking, and coming later in the weekend, my own veganization of a not-so vegan menu.


Curried Carrot Almond Soup
Creamy Corn Soup with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Side Greens:

Swiss Chard with Almonds and Raisins
Golden Beet and Sunflower Salad

Main Course:
Vegetarian Cassoulet
Spaghetti with Cauliflower, Green Olives, and Almonds

Vegan Desserts 2.0
Mexican Chocolate Pudding

And onto the News...

I decided to take a break from recipe writing and discussion tonite to bring you some food-related updates and interesting tidbits. First off, one of the most impressive that I have seen, is that the LA Times is on board with Vegan MoFo! Each day they are posting new vegan recipes from their test kitchen on their Daily Dish Blog. I never thought I would see a large newspaper acknowledge an event like this, no matter how impressive (and it is impressive) by joining in on the mayhem. What a great way to spread the word of vegan cooking to the masses! I will definitely be trying a few of these recipes and reporting on them in the upcoming weeks (or maybe in November... can we roll Vegan MoFo over onto another month?)
. Now if only we could get Mark Bittman in on the Vegan MoFo goodness...

For the second bit of news, the Autumn Massaman Curry that I posted about a few days back made it onto the roundup over at Vegan MoFo Headquarters International over the weekend. Check out the main page, to read about what the MoFo Moderators are digging on our blogs.

And lastly, because I don't feel satisified unless I have written enough to fill a book, the survey that has been going around the MoFo blogs recently:

1. Favorite non-dairy milk?
Almond Breeze, plain, followed by hemp milk.

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook?
creative squash dishes, enchiladas, and home-made pasta.

3. Topping of choice for popcorn?
A wee bit of melted earth balance with sea salt.

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure?
Ugh, Kitchen Sink Curry. The first and only time I ever threw an entire meal into the garbage.

5. Favorite pickled item?
Green tomatoes from Guss'.

6. How do you organize your recipes?
Cookbooks get alphabetized, and articles get archived in google docs.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal?
Compost AND trash.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods...what would they be (don't worry about how you'll cook them)?
bananas, avocado, carrots.

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood?
Making chocolate chip cookies every Thursday nite at my neighbor's house.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream?
Luna and Larry's Coconut Bliss! And of course, Lula's and Stogo, for the local NYC market.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance?
Lately it has been my blender.

12. Spice/herb you would die without?

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time?
Even though I hate using it, How It All Began by Sarah Kramer. I am loathe to part with it just because I feel as if it spawned the modern vegan movement in the younger generation.

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly?
Blueberry or Cherry.

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend?
Home-made gnocchi.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh?
Tempeh, followed by seitan.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)?
Dinner most days, brunch when asked.

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator?
Fruit and scissors.

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking.
Basil, Flour, and Coffee. Says a lot.

20. What's on your grocery list?
Depends on what the CSA brings, but tomatoes and fruit are weekly staples. Other things change by the week.

21. Favorite grocery store?
Whole Foods receives a weekly visit, and usually Trader Joe's does too. Also, the Union Square Greenmarket, especially for the herbs!

22. Name a recipe you'd love to veganize, but haven't yet.
Cannolis! Real, Italian, Cannolis! (And I'm Italian so I can say that).

23. Food blog you read the most (besides Isa's because I know you check it everyday). Or maybe the top 3?
Right now... probably Swell Vegan or CHOW.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate?
If I had ever tried a go max bar, I would probably say that, but I haven't so, I'll have to say super rich dark chocolate from the likes of Green and Blacks or Mast Brothers.

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately?
A 3-dollar persimmon the other day at Whole Foods. It was a lite cooking needs week, so extra fun things took over.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with?
For some reason I feel like I will always mess up agar. But Frank is laughing because he knows that the real answer is slimy white things, like tofu and oatmeal.

Exotic Foods: Daikon Radish

As I have mentioned in prior posts, Frank and I joined a CSA this year, and we have been cooking primarily with what we receive each week in our haul. This is only the second time we walked away with Daikon Radishes, something I find a bit challenging to work with. Many people are familiar with daikons being used in raw green salads, or being turned into kimchi. I don't necessarily want to make a condiment with my CSA vegetables, so both times I have managed to incorporate them into main-dish items. Daikon radishes are low in calories and high in fiber, as shown in the detailed nutrition breakdown here . Rebecca Wood, on her website, states,
Daikon cleanses the blood, promotes energy circulation and increases the metabolic rate. It contains diuretics, decongestants and, in terms of phytochemicals, the digestive enzymes diastase, amylase and esterase. This makes it a primary ingredient in a great variety of home remedies. Regular use of daikon helps prevent the common cold, flu and respiratory infections. Daikon treats hangovers, sore throats, colds and edema, and it helps cleanse the kidneys and decongest the lungs. This restorative vegetable also has anticarcinogenic properties'.
Pretty amazing, right? Imagine pairing this with dandelion greens in the same meal! I am sure that many of you have had your hands on daikon and not been quite sure what to do with them, so I would like to share what Frank and I have done.

The first dish that we made a couple of months back was the Shredded Parsnip and Beet salad from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, subbing in daikon for the parsnip. While parsnips are sweeter than daikon, the spicy daikon paired with earthy red beets and a sweet pineapple viniagrette was a great mid-summer all raw meal, as we made fresh pineapple juice for the dressing. We paired this with salad greens as well. I think that adding in walnuts or pecans would also be a wonderful addition to this salad. Imagine if you actually put in the parsnip too!

Tonite, Frank had the pleasure of cooking a daikon-based meal without me around to be the horrible backseat chef that I am, and the results were great. I recently purchased Vegan Fire and Spice by Robin Robertson, so we adapted her Asparagus Daikon Salad and made Broccoli-Daikon Salad served with bulgur. Frank inadvertently increased the cayenne pepper to 1 tsp for a double portion of the salad versus 1/2 tsp, but probably because it was paired with bulgur, the salad was not overly spicy. The daikon in this dish is simply cut and mixed in with the steamed broccoli, so everything comes together quickly for nites when a short cooking and eating time is needed. As you can see, it looks very beautiful in a red bowl! Simple and nourishing, this was a wonderful, quick early fall dish. When spring arrives and asparagus is less expensive, we will definitely try it as it was written in the book.

And don't think that you only have to eat daikon radish raw! It can be cooked into numerous Asian dishes, becoming tender and flavorful when treated this way. Here's to experimentation in the kitchen!

Autumn Massaman Curry

Welcome to the second VeganMoFo post this month. Since I posted bright and early (or late) on Thursday morning, I essentially had the day 'off' yesterday. I have done a bit of thinking about topics I would like to feature during VeganMoFo, and you will be seeing one, using the abundance of autumn and winter squash, in a minute. Each week I will feature a different winter squash and my recipe / adaptation used for it. This week, I bring to you the humble white acorn squash. Yes, you read right. WHITE acorn squash. Frank and I saw it on sale at the grocery and were intrigued. It had a pale white skin and, as seen below, looks beautiful.

Since October has come in full force this week, we both have been craving warm, nourishing foods and decided that a nice Massaman curry that included the squash would fill the job. However, I wanted to preserve the gorgeous paleness of this squash, so I decided to roast it and use it as a serving vessel for our side grain. When roasted the squash yellows in color a bit, and is creamy and mild in taste. The curry sauce was made from a combination of a Massaman paste, coconut milk, almond milk, and tamarind paste. Other delicious early fall vegetables- bok choy, cauliflower, Japanese turnips and peppers, rounded out the dish.

Autumn Massaman Curry

For the squash:
1 medium white acorn squash, cut in half width-wise and seeded

For the grain:

1 c. grain of your choice

2 c. water

For the curry:

4 Tbsp Massaman curry paste

1 can lite coconut milk

1 c. plain almond milk
3 Tbsp tamarind paste

2 Tbsp sugar

3/4 lb. cauliflower

6 medium-sized Japanese turnips
1 red bell pepper

1 small bunch bok choy

1 4 oz can sliced bamboo shoots

Cilantro, for garnish (optional)


First, we will make the curry sauce. Place all ingredients in a blender, and mix until emulsified. Taste for balance- massaman should be spicy, sweet, and tangy all at the same time, due to the combination of ingredients. If you taste more of one ingredient (such as tamarind), increase a bit of the others.

Next, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and set 2 cups of water to boil. When ready, place squash face down in a small baking dish in the oven. Add your grain to the water and let simmer as well. Both will cook for about 35 - 40 minutes.

While the squash and grain are cooking, prepare your vegetables, cutting all into small-medium sized pieces. Place cauliflower and Japanese turnips into a large pan with water, and simmer until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, return to pan, and add remaining vegetables and curry sauce. Place on medium heat and simmer for another 15 minutes, or until bok choy stems are juicy and tender.
As each item (grain, squash, curry) finishes cooking, remove from heat.

To serve, spoon curry into a wide shallow bowl, and place acorn squash half in the center. Place your grain in the center of the acorn squash and sprinkle chopped cilantro over the entire dish. Enjoy!

Vegan Mofo!

Greetings and Salutations! I inadvertently took the summer off from writing, which I do regret. Between vacations and birthday parties, piano lessons starting up again and more work getting thrown in, August and September were hectic, to say the least. But! I am back! And with a vengance. In order to kick-start good habits and jump into the swing of things, I have decided to take place in the third edition of VeganMoFo, a month long participatory event in which bloggers from across the globe (!) will be writing about veganism and vegan food every day. The goal is to great a huge network of vegan blogs all over, and to turn others who may not be familiar with veganism or awesome vegan food, into vegan food dabblers (if not lovers). To get into the spirit of things some of the NYC-based bloggers met up tonite for dinner at Lan Cafe and dessert at Stogo. Unfortunately I was only able to get to Stogo, and at the tail end of things at that, but who can turn down vegan ice cream, even when it's all of 55-60 degrees outside? Not me, says me. On the way to Stogo, my roommate Rachael and I made up advertisement songs for Stogo using old go-go themed 60s' songs such as 'Go Go Gorilla' (Stogo Gorilla) and 'Going to a Go-Go' (Going to a Stogo). Ha ha ha. And if that weren't enough, my ice cream high (a mix of salted caramel pecan and fudge brownie) has allowed me to decide that starting off Vegan MoFo with a picture of my vegan refrigerator is a beautiful way to begin. Here it is below:
Vegan Refrigerator is quite decorated, mainly with cards and pictures of things my friends or I have been involved in. The postcards on the bottom are from my friend Charles' label Killer Diller Records (which is the home of fine music), and luxuriamusic.com is a fine internet radio station playing you garage, tropicalia, power pop, etc etc. Of course, we have the pig woof flier to remind you that pigs are friends, not food. Vegan Refrigerator will be providing fresh vegetables and other sundries for me to write about over the next month, so stay tuned!

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