30 May 2010

Coconut What? part trois

While at Central Market I found a huge display with O.N.E. Coconut Water on sale for something like 5 for $6. Considering my foray into coconut water previously, I decided to just grab a couple flavors to try out. How could I pass up such a great deal?!

What a difference a brand makes! I love ONE! The consistency is much more like water and less syrupy. I tried the passion fruit and mango flavours, with the passion fruit being my favorite. Because the price was better/lower than the VitaCoconut, I will probably keep picking up a few of these delicious and nutritious beverages.

The other really cool thing about O.N.E. (check them out on twitter and Facebook), is they support several non-profits in the Amazons and 100% of the profits from their "bottled" water is donated to charities chosen by the consumer. Super cool!

I'm super excited for this evening. My sister is in town for the holiday weekend and we are going to explore some vegetarian restaurant we've never been to in Dallas. At the top of the list is Kalachandjis Krishna Palace and Restaurant. We've been talking about going there forever and it's so close to my house. Kalachandjis serves mostly vegan cuisine inspired by the middle east. The menu changes daily based on what's fresh and lunch and dinner service are paid for by donations only. The suggested donation for lunch is $7.95 and dinner is $10.95. Of course, if you enjoy your experience (or eat a lot) you can pay more. If you're a bit strapped for cash, you can pay a bit less. I love it! I can't wait to tell you all about our experience.

28 May 2010

Recipe: Lavender Pound Cake

I love Philosophy products. They smell great and are economical (a 16 oz body wash/shampoo/bubble bath is $16 and lasts forever). I've had this scent in my shower for a couple years now and it's maybe half way gone. It's sweet without making my teeth hurt, and feminine yet not juvenile. Every time I use it, I stare at the recipe on the label (all the food related scents have one) and dream about the day when I might tackle baking. Well, no more!

The recipe calls for dried lavender blossoms, but I have no idea where you would find those. Maybe a fancy baking/sweet shop would have them and I'm sure you can order them online, but they are just not available at my local Whole Foods or Central Market. What I was delighted to find where the leaves and stems of the flower. They are not available year round. I would have thought autumn would be a better to find them, but whatever. I picked up a bundle and off I went. Below is the recipe as it appears on the bottle with my adjustments in green.

Lavender Pound Cake

2 c flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)

1/2 t baking powder

2 sticks butter, softened (I used Earth Balance margarine sticks. I prefer the soy free blend but it seems to only be available in tub form and I learned my lesson last time- super messy)

1 c sugar

1 1/4 t lavender blossoms, dried (I used about 3 t fresh leaves which I baked in the oven for a couple minutes then chopped)

4 eggs (next time I'm going totally vegan and using egg replacer or silken tofu)

1/2 t lemon zest

1/2 c milk (soy milk)

Preheat oven to 325 and lightly grease an 8x4x2 1/2 pan (basically a loaf pan. I used parchment paper because I saw Martha Stewart do it once and the cake comes right out)

Sift flour and baking powder, set aside.

Cream butter. Add lavender, sugar, and zest. Beat until light in colour and texture. Add eggs one at a time and mix well.

Add 1/2 flour and mix. Add milk. Fold in remaining flour. Pour into loaf pan.

Bake about 1 hour then cool on a wire rack.

To go with it, I made some simple icing:
1 c confectioners sugar slowly mixed into 2 T warm milk (soy milk). Drizzle over top and let cool.

It was so delicious! Watch out this holiday season because everyone is getting one!

Let me know how if turns out if you make it!

22 May 2010

Take Action!

* Vegetarian Times magazine has released their nominations in the 2010 Foodie Awards. Click the link to vote for your favorite veggie friendly treats and staples.

* Vegetarian Times is a great magazine for veggies and friends alike. Their website has some awesome info, including a veggie storage guide and Ingredient Substitute guide. I also recently checked out an issue of VegNews, a vegan (somewhat vegetarian friendly) magazine. What can I say? They caught me with a pic of Ginnifer Goodwin, and I loves me some "Big Love". There were some cute recipes and product recommendations in both. Definitely worth a look.

* In the latest issue of Veg News, there was a short article talking about the dangers of soy. In it, they quote Dr. Neal Barnard (author, researcher, and physician) who says that soy is healthy for both men and woman and may even help reduce the risks of fibroids and osteoporosts. You can read more on The Huffington Post.

* Check out Soy Happy for a complete list of Ballparks offering vegetarian and vegan fare. (Good job Rangers!)

* I was super excited to hear that Nestle has vowed to stop using rain forest-destroying palm oil in their products. The company says it will avoid "high risk plantations or farms linked to deforestation." The production of palm oil for commercial use has lead to the destruction not only of the rain forest but also to the animals (elephants, orangutans, etc) and peoples who live there. If you can, try to avoid products that use palm oil and opt for friendlier options instead.
* Here are some of my new favorite foodie sites and recent winners of my Veggie Superstar Award. Show 'em some love:
Heather Eats Almond Butter (mostly vegetarian with great recipes)
Homesick Texan (not a veggie site, but she makes plenty of Texas style veggies!)
Kristen's Kitchen (vegan blog)
Look 2 Beauty: A Vegan Blog
An Opera Singer in the Kitchen (great vegan blog with awseom pics and recipes)

18 May 2010

Another Meatless Monday: Now with movies!

How was your Meat Free Monday? I may have partaken a bit too much in the ol' Irish cure on Sunday to have a really good one (seems my bronchitis is back), but I still managed to eat pretty well and surprisingly easy. As my daily diet becomes more and more vegetarian I have to worry less and less about what I'll make on Monday. It's the other days of the week that are still giving me trouble! Thankfully, I've got a couple new cookbooks I'm reading and hope to share my insights with you soon. Breakfast was a bit lame with some So Delicious Coconut Milk yogurt and a bag of pretzels. Lunch was much better- Boca burger on whole wheat toast with shredded cabbage, onions, and BBQ; served with pickles and some sauteed green beans. I love green beans!
Last night was my 3rd film 101 class/movie club. Every month we meet up to watch a classic or neo-classic film picked by me. The goal is to educate and entertain my friends one some great films that everyone should see. Previously we watched "Raging Bull" and "All About Eve". Tonight, I threw out all the stops and screened my favorite film of all time "Vivre sa Vie" by Jean-Luc Godard. You can read all about our movie nights here or by clicking on 'WWQTW' in the tags section of The Art of Throwing Stones.

What was even more exciting was that all the food we brought to nosh was vegetarian. We didn't even plan it that way! I (attempted) to make Goat Cheese with Sun dried Tomato Profiteroles from Giada on the Food Network. They were delicious, but somehow my profiteroles did rise the way they should. Instead, they came out looking more like biscuits (hence the picture above is from The Food Network's site) but still tasted great! Also at our spread was a veggie tray with homemade dip, pita chips with hummus or spinach artichoke dip, salad and bread sticks from Olive Garden (genius! I hope people forget to make things more often if it means OG salad- surely the best thing on the menu), and Oreo cheesecake cups. Didn't help my healthy eating much, but at least I didn't have to worry about what I was going to eat. Setting these movie nights on Meatless Monday is certainly a risk, but all my friends have been really supportive.

On a separate note:

**An Opera Singer in the Kitchen is having a great giveaway right now. Check out her site for how to enter to win a really cool Sunbeam mixer plus Naturally Nora products to use it on! She also has a lot of really cool vegan recipes that I can't wait to try. Definitely one of my new favorite food blogs! ***

16 May 2010

Coconut What? Part Deux

Somehow I developed a gnarly cough and head cold again. (I blame a seriously cold and over crowded theatre. Thanks "Robin Hood"! The only cure as I see it is to go shopping for pre-made food and things chocked full of Vitamin C. Oh, the super strength cough medicine my doc gave me last time is also helping.

In a fit of coughing rage, I decided ice cream was the best way to go. Who doesn't like ice cream when you're feeling sick? What else works to counteract the fire that seems to emanate from your face? But, I don't want dairy. That has never helped a cough.

Enter onto the scene: Purely Decadent Coconut Milk Ice Cream. The whole line of coconut milk ice cream is free from dairy/lactose, gluten, soy, cholesterol, trans fats, and certified vegan and Kosher.

The flavor of coconut is not over whelming; giving the ice cream a subtle sweetness and hint of the exotic. I tried the Cookies and Cream flavour and while it does not taste just like the dairy "real thing", it hit all the points I needed in a cold dessert: soothing to my throat and completely yummy. It is sweetened with agave nectar so I found it to be sweeter than dairy ice cream (even though it has less sugar), however this helped stop me from eating the whole pint in one sitting. Way to keep me within the recommended serving!

I can't wait to try some of their other flavours, especially the mango and lemonade coconut water sorbet. Purely Decadent offers another great alternative to dairy and soy-based desserts. I just wish they would fortify more of their foods with Calcium. It's present in the coconut yogurts I crave, but not in the frozen desserts.

Check out their website where you can find coupons and more info!

15 May 2010

Take Action!

* Genetic engineering (GMOs, etc) is excluded from organic produce, except in the case of vaccines. These vaccines can be given to livestock and have them still labeled as organic. To petition for change and learn more, click here.

* Daiya and Peta are joining forces to sponsor a really cool contest: Just tell them what you would make with Daiya and how you would share it with friends and you could win 10 lbs of Daiya cheese! That's a lot of cheese! Click on "contest" above to enter, but act fast- the contest ends June 1st.

* Eating Well and Organic Valley are sponsoring a holiday cookie contest as well. Submit your favorite, healthier cookie recipe and you could win a $2000 Baker's Dream shopping spree and a years supply of Organic Valley products. Check out the guidelines and enter here.

* I've heard a lot about the dangers of soy. An excess of soy in the diet can cause growth problems in children, thyroid issues, infertility, and certain cancers (like breast cancer). That's a pretty hefty list and it doesn't include everything that has been linked to soy. What's more, soy is in so many products today either as a filler or as the main source of protein. So, how much is too much and what should you do? The average recommended use I found online, called for soy no more than 3 times a week. That's not very much when you take into account soy milk in your cereal, veggie burgers for lunch, or tempeh/tofu for dinner. It is super important that you check in with your doctor regularly and before you start any type of new diet. Also, experiment with other milk, dairy, and meat substitutes. I love coconut milk and have been putting it in my oatmeal all week. It's naturally sweet and delicious. Sub seitan (wheat gluten) in recipes that call for tempeh or tofu. Daiya cheese is soy free and melts great. What have you heard or experienced about soy?
For further reading check out this article in Scientific American.

13 May 2010

"C" is Still for Cookie

Upon eating many of these cookies yesterday, my father called me up and proclaimed the 12th of each month Cookie Day. He then put in a future (and somewhat crazy) order for cookies once a month.

I have NEVER been a baker, that was always my sisters department. I couldn't be bothered with measuring cups and spoons, hand mixers, stand-up mixers (I so wish I had the counter space or the check book to get one of these), flour everywhere, etc. I liked cooking savory dishes, the kind where you might skim the recipe then forget to add half the ingredients. It's more forgiving than baking. However, since I'm trying to eat well and limit processed foods to things I actually need (like veggie sausages) I knew I would have to give in to baking eventually. What's most shocking is I'm not that bad at it!

The following is my recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies. I've made them a couple different ways and the variations will be listed in green. They are great for gifts, parties, or guilty pleasure treats! Printable recipe cards available on request

1c + 2T Pre-Sifted Flour (I like wheat, but any healthy grain flour is okay- no pastry flour)
1/2t Baking Soda
1/2t Baking Powder (optional for chewier cookies)
1/2t Salt (optional)
1/2c Vegan Butter (I like Earth Balance. It's got a great buttery taste and no trans fats)
1/3c White Sugar
1/3c Light Brown Sugar, firmly packed
1t Vanilla Extract
1T EVOO + 1/2t water (you can substitute any healthy oil here)
6 oz Vegan Chocolate Chips

* Add 1/2 c of your favorite crushed nuts like pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts, etc

* For Chocolate Chocolate Chip (my favorite), add 1T Cocoa or Carob powder (Do not use Hot Cocoa mix!)

Pre-heat oven to 350 and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt together. If you don't have a flour sifter, use two spoons like you were tossing a salad.
In another medium sized bowl, cream butter and sugar mixture together. Add vanilla, oil, and water and mix well. Combine wet and dry ingredients together. Add chocolate chips, nuts, etc, and mix well. This is a fairly dry batter so don't fret, it's normal!

Using your hands, shape cookies into balls anywhere from ping pong size or smaller (approximately 1T-1t size). Place on cookie sheets allowing at least 1 1/2 inch room between cookies. Bake 10-12 minutes or until slightly brown around edges.


10 May 2010

Meat Free Monday!

I've been paying for bread like a sucker! Did you know Whole Foods has a frequent bread card? (Worst name for a card ever). They do, and after you buy 5 loaves of their 365 or Whole Foods brand bread you get the 6th for free. For free!!!! I'm almost positive I've purchased at least 3 loaves there already and I got nothing to show for it except a possibly cleaner colon (I don't mean that to be gross, just you know, whole grains guys!).

It's been a pretty successful Meatless Monday so far. Last night I made Oatmeal (Steel Cut Oatmeal!- sounds gnarly) for the first time ever. Seriously. I'm not sure why, but oatmeal always skeeved me out and I never ate it as a child. I love cream of wheat though, how ironic. Anyway, it was another impulse buy while at Whole Foods (I really should be banned) and a recommendation from the "Becoming Vegetarian" handbook. What's great is you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge til you're ready to use. Another tip: be sure to set your timer or at the very least check what time it is when you start cooking. I'm a genius and totally forgot to do this until I had already stirred the oats a couple times. I ended up over cooking them just slightly for re-heating but they were perfect last night around 1 AM. I also used a 3:1 ratio of water to coconut milk instead of all water or all milk. Now, all I need is something called blackstrap molasses and I'm good to go!

Lunch was supposed to be a salad made at home but of course I went to Whole Foods to get bread (and join the bread gang) and ended up buying some prepared foods too. I had some delicious roast garlic and tomato soup, smoked mozzarella pasta salad, Asian cabbage slaw, and French lentils. I have no idea what made them French, but there were carrots.

If I'm lucky, dinner tonight will be pizza with olive oil, roasted red and yellow peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, goat cheese, and mozzarella. Yum!

What did you do for Meatless Monday?

(I seriously need a better camera phone)

09 May 2010

Happy 3 Month Anniversary!

Three months ago I embarked on my new foodie outlook on life and eating. I started simply by participating in Meat Free Monday and planning out vegetarian dishes I could make. When all of your cooking references are based on meat protein, it's a big kick to the head when you try to think differently. I had no idea what I was doing!

Fast forward almost two months and this website was born. My new goal: To eliminate as much meat as possible from my diet. It wouldn't hurt if I could drop a couple of pounds and start feeling better all around either! Being the lazy person that I am, I wanted to see what changes in my diet could do for the over all look of my body (and mind) without changing my activity level (screw you fitness!). I think it may be time to re-address my loathing of fitness.

Friday, I spent $50 at Half Price Books buying vegetarian cook books. It is time to get serious! By the end of next month (April) I want my house to be free of meat. This, however, is a two fold problem. On the one hand, I have the most beautiful, organic, local, free-range/grass fed chicken and beef in my fridge. To throw it out would be a crime and I can't give it away- it's too nice! On the other hand, I can't bring myself to cook them. I keep thinking, if this is the last meat I'll buy for home I want to do something really special with it. I don't want my last memories to be of burnt chicken and tough steak. It should be magickal and a proper tribute.

Part of what's prompted the foray into a totally vegetarian diet was the support of my friends and even my family (who have unwittingly been guinea pigs to vegan and vegetarian delights). My good friend shine recently challenged herself to live vegan for the month of April. Her cold turkey approach scared me but I wished her luck. At the end of her 30 days, she'd lost substantial weight, her skin looked better than ever (in all fairness, it always looked nice), and she felt pretty good. After falling off the bandwagon hard (oh cheese, why do you hate us so?), she's back on the vegan train. I know that if she can do it, so can I. I also know it's a lot easier to change your life with cheerleaders in your corner (especially ones with recipes to swap).

Though I don't think I've attained my side goal of losing a few pounds, my body does feel better in general. My mind, not as much. Maybe I need more B12?? For now, I'm reading my book store spoils and ready for the next step: discovering even more delicious foods that everyone and anyone will enjoy!

08 May 2010

Take Action!

* Wednesday I went to my first Meet Up for the Dallas Vegetarians. I have never done anything like this before but it sounded like fun. Plus I had my "stranger danger" buddy shine with me, so what could go wrong? We went to the Bavarian Grill , a German restaurant in Plano. They have a completely separate vegetarian menu (and another one showing what dishes are pork free). I had the vegetable strudel filled with leeks, white and red cabbage, carrots, onions, and mushrooms (though those were not mentioned on the menu). It came with Bavarian potatoes which I learned is code for baked cheese (kinda gross) and creamed spinach (which is listed on the online menu, but not on the printed menu in the restaurant). I HATE creamed spinach, and would have loved the opportunity to sub sauerkraut. Our waitress was a bit off, I felt like she hated us, and not very helpful on substitutions. Also, all I really wanted was the German mixed salad (tomatoes in vinaigrette, cucumbers with dill, green beans with onions, shredded carrots and beets) but it turned out not to be vegetarian and they wouldn't do substitutions (the green beans were cooked in beef broth). Uh, why was it on the veggie menu then? I'll still go back to Bavarian Grill, but may take the opportunity to eat schnitzel instead. As for the Meet Up group, they were very interesting and I would go to another dinner if it was somewhere I was interested in and if my danger buddy could go too!

* New study shows eating charred red meat can increase your risk of bladder cancer.

* Eat Green DFW blogs about sustainable food in North Texas. This week, they shared some delicious recipes to keep in mind when you're at your local farmers market. I haven't been about to get down to the new market at Mockingbird Station yet, but am looking forward to it. I'll probably wait until more produce is available next month.

* Daiya is now available in all Whole Foods! It is delicious and melts wonderfully.

* There's a bill being argued right now that would make it next to impossible to require GMO and non-GMO labels on food. Seriously? Don't you want to know what's in your food? At the least, don't you want to be able to choose what kind of food you eat? What bugs me the most about this bill is that it effects those who use non-GMO ingredients and already label their food that way. Personally, I only buy soy products that say non-GMO and would be pissed if I were no longer allowed to differentiate between the two. Please click on the above link to learn more and sign a petition to stop this blatant infringement on the rights of farmers and manufacturers.

Tempeh Piccata- the whole recipe!

~ It's come to my attention that the recipe cards are not opening or not opening in larger formats, making them difficult to read. I am working on this problem, however, if you ever want me to email the recipes to you, I would be more than happy! Hopefully I can figure out what's going on and fix it! In the meantime, here is the recipe written out:

6 lg pieces of plain seitan 1c. dry white wine
Whole wheat flour for dredging 1/4c fresh lemon juice
1/4 c EVOO 1 c vegetable broth
1/2 c diced shallot 2 T unbleached flour
1/2 c diced onion 2 T soy margarine
1 t chopped garlic 1 c chopped parsley (or 2 T dried)
1/4 c drained capers 1/2 t sea salt and black pepper

Dredge seitan in whole wheat flour and shake off excess. If using tempeh, press it flat (I like using a plate for this), then dredge. Heat 2 T EVOO over high heat in a lg skillet. Add seitan and saute until crisp and golden, about 30 sec per side. Transfer to serving platter.

Heat remaining oil in same skillet. Add shallots, onion, garlic, capers, and saute until soft, about 1-2 min. Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced by half. Whisk in lemon and cook until reduced further, 1-2 min.

Whisk in broth and flour, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 min to thicken. Whisk in margarine, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour over seitan and serve immediately.

Bon Appetite!

06 May 2010

Piccata Me Crazy!

Ever since I read "The Kind Diet" I've been dying to try her recipe for Seitan Piccata. Let me start by telling you that I love anything piccata- veal, chicken, whatever. You cover anything with a lightly creamy lemon wine sauce and it becomes heaven. Since drastically cutting down on my consumption of meat, I thought my favorite Italian dish was lost to me forever.

My biggest problem turned out to be finding large pieces of seitan. It seems my Whole Foods and Central Market are often sold out. Urgh! Instead, I decided to live dangerously and substitute tempeh; plus, I'd never had it before so it would be an adventure all around. Tempeh comes in several flavors and can be found pre-marinated. I chose a 5-grain version for my piccata. The other most important ingredient is the wine. A dry white wine works best and you don't have to spend a lot of money! My newest discovery is Vieux Papes, Frances most popular table wine. (Sorry, the website is in French; so dust off your high school French-English dictionary!) You can purchase these wines at Whole Foods and they typically run around $5-6.

The whole thing came out perfectly! It was so delicious and creamy, fast and easy. The only thing I would change next time is to cut the tempeh in half width wise or try to press it out and make it thinner. I wanted a bit more crunch than was afforded me from an inch and a half piece of tempeh. Hopefully next time, I can make it with seitan (and not have to worry about so much soy).

Just to top things off and play devil's advocate, I also made vegan chocolate chip cookies. The recipe was adapted from an old cook book (possibly Better Homes & Gardens??). I'll post the full recipe soon when I make another batch, but the conversion was really simple: 1 T of olive oil for the egg, whole wheat flour instead of all purpose, and vegan chocolate chips. Everyone loved them, even my Dad who commissioned another batch with pecans. I think I'll make chocolate chocolate chip cookies in a partially vain attempt to use up the giant container of carob powder I have. Wish me luck!

Full recipe here.

02 May 2010

Salad Daze II

Happy Meatless Monday! I totally remembered in time- can you believe it? This morning I had sliced strawberries (now in season- yea!) and cantaloupe with a side of pretzels. What can I say? I was in a hurry this morning dealing with the cable guy and trying not to be incredibly late to work. My plan for the rest of the day is to devour some edamame, kale chips, and maybe soup for lunch. If all goes well, dinner will be a seitan picatta recipe I got from "The Kind Life", but I'm going to substitute tempeh instead. Cross fingers it works. (I'll post pics and the recipe if it does).

I kept hearing about nutritional yeast on several veggie blogs I follow and was tired of not knowing what the heck they were talking about. So, earlier this week I found myself wondering aimlessly around Whole Foods looking for the stuff. I had hoped it would come in a cute little glass jar and I could avoid the bulk food aisle completely, but no luck. Thankfully, I still had one glass spice jar left over from the time I received Hungarian paprika as a gift (It came in these cute pouches that revealed a plastic sandwich bag inside. Not very easy to use and messy). If you're thinking of taking the plunge, I suggest you get a similar jar. Plus, they're just so cute in the cupboard!

I have never bought anything in bulk before but thankfully the people at Whole Foods are so nice and took pity on me. It's a bit expensive (mine was $8.99 lb), but a little goes a long way so there's no need to go overboard.

Nutritional yeast is a complete source of protein, full of B vitamins, and low in fat making it a friend to vegetarians and vegans alike. It looks like large flakes of garlic powder and has a nutty/cheesy taste. You can use it in place of cheese in a dish or just sprinkle it into anything you make, such as salads, sauces, soups, potatoes, eggs, etc. I sprinkled about a tablespoon on top of a salad with Romain, spinach, cucumbers, celery, carrots, marinated artichoke hearts, garlic croutons, and balsamic vinaigrette. Yum! I can't wait to try it other ways.

Have you ever used nutritional yeast? Know any good recipes?