Great news, unless you are deciding which cookbook to add to your library. Fortunately for me, I did not have to choose, as I received a hardcopy version of Crazy Sexy Kitchen as a gift.
Previously, I wrote about my experience trying to recreate a vegan version of a now-shuttered Tokyo bakery’s “lemon cake with wow”. As promised, I’ve continued my quest for a vegan lemon cake recipe that matches the best of non-vegan lemon cakes.
I tried both of the lemon cake recipes from Fairfoods (a bakery and caterer located in Devon, England), beginning with their gluten-free recipe. Since I had never used xantham gum, I followed the instructions closely (even weighing the ingredients–instead of using measuring cups–as professional bakers do) and also determined that the British “2 dssp” (dessert spoons) of ground flaxseeds translates to 4 teaspoons in American.
The gluten-free cake batter was so thick and viscous, I thought I had made a mistake, but Clare of Fairfoods assured me that thick and sticky batter is normal for xanthan gum, as long as it is not lumpy. “Always sieve the flours, xanthan and raising agents together,” she told me, ”and give the batter a really good whisk so it is even. Just whisk as much as it needs and no more. ”
Sure enough, after baking, the cake’s consistency was spongy and moist. (more…)
Fewer people understand what a vegan diet has to do with avoiding processed foods–such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, and sugar–or even vegetable oils.
These measures are the guidelines of a whole-foods plant-based vegan diet, such as that endorsed by Rip Esselstyn’s Engine 2 Diet, and displayed in Del Sroufe’s Forks Over Knives cookbook, containing healthy vegan recipes by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Julieanna Hever, and others.
Bottom line is, while many processed foods may be technically vegan or “accidentally vegan” as PETA refers to products with no animal-based ingredients, they are unlikely to be “accidentally healthy”.
And while you may relax your standards on a rare occasion–when dining out or visiting friends–you’ll surely feel better long-term by keeping tempting vegan junk foods out of your grocery cart, and out of your house.
When analyzing packaged foods, I often refer to nutritionist/dietitian Jeff Novick’s rules and guidelines for telling the difference between a health food vs what’s really healthy for you:
Rule #1-Never believe anything on the front of the package…ever!
Rule #2-Always read the Nutrition Facts Label and the Ingredients List.
Novick gives guidelines for fat, sodium, white sugars and refined sugars, and refined carbohydrates–4 things commonly abused in the United States.
Daily fat requirement–in order to avoid essential fatty acid deficiency–is only 3 to 5%, while the typical American intake is 35%!
Calculate fat % by dividing calories from fat by the # of calories
Daily sodium requirement is 500mg/day; aim for no more than 1 calorie: 1mg of sodium
Novick says that–since the Nutrition Facts panel lists “total sugars” only–you cannot determine natural sugars (such as in fruit) versus added sugars. Therefore, refer to the ingredients listing in order to avoid all added sugars (at least, he says, sugars should not be among the first 3 to 5 ingredients)
The “Nutrition Facts” panel does not tell the reader anything interesting about carbohydrates, Novick says. Therefore, refer to the ingredients list, and SEEK OUT the desirable terms “whole” or “sprouted” and AVOID the words “wheat”,” white”, “durum”, “semolina”, “bleached”, “unbleached”, “artichoke” and “enriched flour”.
Aim for products that carry >3g of fiber per 100 calories
To apply Novick’s technique, let’s take a package of Nabisco Newtons Fruit Thins stashed in a typical SAD household. The box touts “8g of whole grain per serving”, “made with real fruit”, “blueberry brown sugar”, and “natural flavor”.
Sounds so wholesome, someone might even mistake them for a “health food”! OK, I admit it: I finished off the bag, without thinking…
Aren’t the best recipes spur of the moment? And better still when they’re fast, easy and crowd-pleasing…
It’s a challenge cooking meals for vegan and omnivores, those with dietary restrictions, and tastebuds that are less than adventurous–especially when it comes to trying “healthy” plant-based foods. And you can forgeddabout raw foods.
With dinnertime fast approaching, I took inventory of what we had in the house:
- Fragrance of fresh basil, a gift from a friend’s garden, was calling to be used every time the refrigerator was opened
- A large head of cauliflower crowded the drawer
- A container of baby spinach leaves would be a shame not to use it while fresh, too
I decided to make a basil spinach pesto with cauliflower–withholding the miso or nutritional yeast I usually include–to allow my mother and aunt to add grated cheese at the table. I would opt for parmesan sprinkles–a blend of sesame seeds and nutritional yeast–inspired by Jo Stepaniak’s “Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook”.
Rather than sauteing cauliflower separately, I added it with the pasta water (though boiling is not optimal for nutrition), and the consistency was just right after 7-8 minutes. At least, it saves time, and pots to clean.
Almost everybody understands that whole, plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits are beneficial for health. And you know intuitively that living foods–such as sprouts–are even healthier. Yet you still draw a blank when it comes to preparing a healthy meal in a hurry.
Hummous–originally made with chickpeas or garbanzo beans–was one of my favorite foods long before I became vegan, and before Veganomicon author Isa Chandra Moskowitz poetically proclaimed the Middle-Eastern bean dip as being “like air for vegans”.
Recently, I’ve been making hummous with sprouted lentils and chickpeas instead of cooked, and while it tastes different–with a crispy-fresh bite, as you might expect–it’s still exotically delicious. Raw or cooked, hummous is easy to make, inexpensive, and keeps several days in the refrigerator, so you can make a big batch on the weekend and eat it all week long, as a dip or in sandwiches.
Unfortunately, most store-bought hummous is full of oil, salt, and other preservatives. With little to no oil, this recipe is low-calorie and nutrient dense. Lentils are one the best sources of protein, and one cup of raw lentils provides 26g of protein vs 18g for cooked lentils.
If you’ve made hummous with canned (pre-cooked) beans, this recipe may take slightly longer, but there’s no comparison in freshness and nutrition. (more…)
Robyn Openshaw’s lecture “Ten Minutes a Day to Spectacular Health” for Vegetarian Society of Hawaii in March so inspired me, I haven’t needed my eyeglasses for the first time in 30 years.
Robyn’s philosophy is for people to spend as little time as possible to achieve the most dramatic health impact. “I’ve learned from traveling around and getting thousands of emails,” she explains “people want to eat right, but they don’t know how anymore. Because ours is the first generation who did not learn home cooking from our mothers and grandmothers.”
Robyn’s goal is that everyone who hears her lecture will begin drinking a quart of green smoothies each day, “to get a massive amount of the lowest calorie, highest micronutrient foods as painlessly as possible, and inexpensively.”
The concept is based on the work of Dr. Joel Fuhrman, whose Nutritarian Food Pyramid defines the healthiest diet as one consisting of foods with qualities of maximum nutrients and minimum calories (H=N/C) and says “your future health can be predicted by the micronutrient per calorie density of your diet”
I’ve learned so much about raw and living foods in the past few months that I don’t know where to begin telling you. After re-learning to cook when I adopted a vegan diet seven years ago, a raw diet feels like you’re starting over yet again. Only with raw foods, it’s not called “cooking”–it’s called “food production”!
Although students prepare almond milk numerous times during 4-weeks at Matthew Kenney Academy, it was especially satisfying to make almond milk while at my mother’s home recently, using a regular old blender (no Vitamix required) and a makeshift nut-milk bag (paint strainer) purchased at Home Depot.
Being able to make staple foods usually bought from a store will give you a great sense of self-reliance, and preparing nutritious almond milk is quick and easy (especially so if you’re a cow). Raw almonds provide a rich source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.
Simple Almond Milk Recipe
1 cup almonds
3-4 cups filtered water
Soak almonds in water overnight (8-12 hours)
Drain and rinse almonds, then throw in blender
Add water, and blend at highest level until smooth (may take 2-3 minutes, but don’t allow milk to become hot)
Pour milk through your nut milk bag over a bowl
Squeeze nutmilk bag to remove all milk from almond pulp
Retain pulp for future use (dehydrate or freeze), and rinse your nutmilk bag
Transfer milk to a quart mason jar and refrigerate (keeps up to 1 week)
You may want to sweeten your almond milk to taste with dates or agave, flavor it with vanilla, and add a little lecithin to keep it from separating (or you can just shake before using). (more…)
Bircher Muesli was a long-time breakfast treat, discovered in hotel breakfast buffets around Asia. While typically made with dairy products, such as milk, cream or yogurt, this vegan version uses soy milk and lemon juice. I can think of few breakfasts that are as easy, healthy or delicious!
Ingredients: (2 servings)
1/2 cup rolled oats or other whole-grain cereal
1 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 tablespoon shredded coconut (or other dried fruit)
1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds (or other nuts/seeds)
1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 medium apple, unpeeled
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Combine oats with soymilk in the evening (or several hours before you plan to eat) and place in refrigerator.
Prior to eating, add lemon juice and mix well (soymilk will thicken).
Cut apple into quarters, remove core, and grate with cheese grater.
Stir grated apple, fruits, nuts and seeds into oats.
Chew well to enjoy nutrition far exceeding processed breakfast cereals. Just try it, and see how good you feel! (more…)
The first time an Indian friend prepared masala chai (tea) for me, it was one of the most heavenly things. I had his recipe affixed to my refrigerator for years, but somehow stopped making it after giving up dairy products. Making a vegan tea masala is so simple, it’s silly, but that was before I realized anything is possible without animal ingredients.
Hot chai tea masala is great in the winter, due to the warming effect of fresh ginger. Iced chai tea masala makes a super satisfying drink in the summer, too.
Ingredients (2 servings)
2 TB black tea (I use Brooke Bond Red Label orange pekoe, but Assam is also good)
1 cup soy milk (or other non-dairy) milk – unsweetened/unflavored
1 cup water
2 TB fresh ginger (grated)
1-2 cardamon pods (slightly crushed)
Tea masala spice mixture (powdered ginger, black pepper, bay leaf, green cardamon, cloves, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg), to taste
Place tea into a small sauce pan and add soy milk, water, ginger, and cardamon pods
Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Don’t let your eyes off the pot, because it boils over in an instant!
Reduce heat immediately, and simmer for another 5 minutes
Shake some tea masala spice into the bottom of a cup.
Pour the tea into cup through a strainer, stir, and enjoy!
If you’re used to drinking traditional tea masala (most Indian restaurants don’t offer a choice with soy milk), it may take some getting used to the taste of non-dairy tea masala, but enjoy knowing it has no cholesterol and is loaded with anti-oxidants. Use sugar sparingly (if necessary), in order to appreciate the taste of the masala spices.
Cooking with okara (soybean pulp) is fairly common among vegans attempting to make the most of the fiber rich bi-product of homemade soy milk. These versatile cookies served as breakfast, snack and energy bar on a recent visit to Hawaii. I found the recipe online, reduced the sweetener, and jazzed it up with spices from Veganomicon’s chewy oatmeal-raisin cookies.
Makes 20 large cookies
1 cup okara
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 cups rolled oats (or quinoa flakes)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup vegan carob
1/2 cup pecan (or other) nuts, sunflower seeds, etc
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice