Saturday, December 26, 2009

Great & Easy "Dips" for your New Years Party!

Spinach Dip
Servings 4

Box Frozen Chopped Spinach (Thawed)
1 Tub Tofutti Sour Cream
1 Pkg Vegan Vegetable Soup Mix*
1/4 Cup Veganoaise
Combine all ingredients and mix well. To serve, cut off the top of pumpernickel bread, and hollow out the bottom, leaving about an inch thick pumpernickel bowl. Pour dip into bread bowl and chill for a few hours before serving. Use the hollowed out bread to dip into the mixture. 

Onion Dip 
Servings 4
1 Box Soft Silken Style Tofu
1 Pkg Vegan Onion Soup Mix*

*Note: Some soup mixes contain beef or other animal fat. Keep this in mind when shopping.
Blend tofu into a sour cream consistency. Add onion soup mix and stir well. Cover and chill for an hour or two before serving. Serve with chips or vegetables.

Basic Guacamole 
Servings 4

4 Avocados 
1 Lime, juice squeezed
1 Tablespoon sea salt
2 Tomatoes, diced
Slice the Avocado in half, remove the pit.  Spoon out the avocado into a bowl and mash the Avocado in a bowl until smooth.  Add the lime juice, salt stirring to a creamy texture.  Add the tomatoes, stir and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Excellent to add & stir in some fresh Salsa too!!

Fresh Salsa
4-6 Servings

3 tomatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded & diced
1 yellow onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 Jalapeno, seeded and diced
2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 Lemon or lime
1 TSP cumin
1 TSP oregano
1/2 TSP salt & pepper
1/4 TSP ground cayenne
1 can diced tomatoes

In a large mixing bowl, combine the fresh diced tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, lemon juice, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and canned diced tomatoes, mix well.

Place 3 quarters of the mixture in a food processor or blinder (5 seconds).  Pour back with the chunky mixture and stir well.

Chill the salsa for 30 minutes to 1 hour before serving.  Great with Tortilla Chips or topping on your favorite mexican dish.

Traditional Hummus
4-6 Servings

1 1/4 cup chick peas, soaked in water over night (or 1- 15 oz can) drained & rinsed
3-4 Tablespoons of Tahini
2 lemons, juiced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Soak you chicks peas over night.  Drain and put into a pan with plenty of fresh water. Bring to a boil, remove scum and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, until they are very soft.  Drain reserving the cooking water.

Using can chick peas, rinse throughly, put into a pan with fresh water.  Bring to a boil and drain reserving the cooked water.

Blend the cooked chick peas to a puree in a food processor or blender add the remaining ingredients, except for the oil and a little of the cooking water- (just enough to blend it to a soft, creamy paste).  Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Pour hummus into a shallow dish and drizzle over the olive oil.

Serve with vegetables of choice (carrots, celery, broccoli), pita chips or pita bread.

Great Egg Replacer

Flax seeds can make awesome binders!

To replace 3 eggs: bring one cup of water and 2 to 3 tablespoons whole flax seeds to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about five minutes, stirring occassionally, until the mixture thickens into goo (similar in texture to egg whites). Strain and cool the goo, and use like eggs.

For cakes, I add the flax goo last, after everything else is mixed togther because it really can firm up a batter. And I usually don't bother to strain the flax seeds out (because it's a pain) unless I'm baking something really fancy.

Ground flax seed recipe (for 1 "egg"): Take 2 tbsp ground flax seed and combine with 3 tbsp water.

You can also use half a banana for 1 "egg".

3 tbsp applesauce = 1 "egg".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Fudgy Brownies

This makes yummy Holiday treats for all your friends & family!!!

Fudgy Brownies

2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
10 ounce of blueberry or strawberry spreadable fruit
1/4 cup soy milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 TSP almond extract
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda
1/4 TSP salt

Preheat oven to 325.  Grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.  Melt 2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips in microwave for 1 minute.  Stir and microwave for one additional minute.  Set aside

In a large mixing bowl combine; spreadable fruit, soy milk, sugar, oil and extract.  Mix on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until no clumps are visible.

Sift in flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Stir until well mixed.  Use a fork to mix, the batter will get very thick.

Mix in the melted chocolate and fold in the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  Nuts are also excellent to fold in!!!

Bake for 50 minutes, remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before serving.  Don't use a toothpick with this recipe, the chocolate will always stick.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Avocado & Bean Salad

Avocado & Bean Salad
(4 servings)

1 can (15oz) Black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can (15oz) Red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
2 ripe Avocado's, peeled, pitted & diced
2 large Tomatoes, diced
2 whole Scallions, chopped
1 Red & Green Bell pepper, seeded & diced
3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 2 limes
2 TBSP fresh Cilantro, chopped
2 TSP dried Oregano
1 TSP Cumin
1/2 TSP Salt & Pepper

In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together and chill for 30 minutes.  Serve over a bed of lettuce and enjoy!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Benefits of using Coconut oil

Coconut oil is by far my favorite oil to cook with, excellent for Med-high heat cooking and you can use this oil for everything!!  Not only is it great for cooking, weight lose and digestion issues you can basically use this great natural resource from "Head to Toe" total body care health inside and out!!!  Take a look at what I found out about Coconut oil.....
  • Hair Care: Coconut oil is one of the best natural nutrition for hair. It helps in healthy growth of hair providing them a shinny complexion. Regular massage of the head with coconut oil ensures that your scalp is free of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs, even if your scalp is dry. Coconut oil is extensively used in the Indian sub-continent for hair care. It is an excellent conditioner and helps in the re-growth of damaged hair. It also provides the essential proteins required for nourishing damaged hair. It is therefore used as hair care oil and used in manufacturing various conditioners, and dandruff relief creams. Coconut oil is normally applied topically for hair care.
  • Stress Relief: Coconut oil is very soothing and hence it helps in removing stress. Applying coconut oil to the head followed with a gentle massage helps in removing mental fatigue.
  • Skin Care: Coconut oil is excellent massage oil for the skin as well. It acts as an effective moisturizer on all types of skins including dry skin. The benefit of coconut oil on the skin is comparable to that of mineral oil. Further, unlike mineral oil, there is no chance of having any adverse side effects on the skin with the application of coconut oil. Coconut oil therefore is a safe solution for preventing dryness and flaking of skin. It also delays wrinkles, and sagging of skin which normally become prominent with age. Coconut oil also helps in treating various skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections. Therefore coconut oil forms the basic ingredient of various body care products such as soaps, lotions, creams, etc., used for skin care.
  • Premature Aging: Coconut oil helps in preventing premature aging and degenerative diseases due to its antioxidant properties.
  • Heart Diseases: There is a misconception spread among many people that coconut oil is not good for the heart. This is because it contains a large quantity of saturated fats. However, coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The saturated fats present in coconut oil are not harmful as it happens in case of other vegetables oils. It does not lead to increase in LDL levels. It also reduces the incidence of injury in arteries and therefore helps in preventing atherosclerosis.
  • Weight Loss: Coconut oil is very useful in reducing weight. It contains short and medium-chain fatty acids that help in taking off excessive weight. It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and enzymes systems. Further, it increases the body metabolism by removing stress on pancreases, thereby burning out more energy and helping obese and overweight people reduce their weight. Hence, people living in tropical coastal areas, who eat coconut oil daily as their primary cooking oil, are normally not fat, obese or overweight.
  • Pancreatitis: Coconut oil is also believed to be useful in treating pancreatitis.
  • Digestion: Internal use of coconut oil occurs primarily as cooking oil. Coconut oil helps in improving the digestive system and thus prevents various stomach and digestion related problems including irritable bowel syndrome. The saturated fats present in coconut oil have anti microbial properties and help in dealing with various bacteria, fungi, parasites, etc., that cause indigestion. Coconut oil also helps in absorption of other nutrients such as vitaminsminerals and amino acids.
  • Immunity: Coconut oil is also good for the immune system. It strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. The human body converts lauric acid into monolaurin which is claimed to help in dealing with viruses and bacteria causing diseases such as herpes, influenza, cytomegalovirus, and even HIV. It helps in fighting harmful bacteria such as listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and harmful protozoa such as giardia lamblia.
  • Healing: When applied on infections, it forms a chemical layer which protects the infected body part from external dust, air, fungi, bacteria and virus. Coconut oil is most effective on bruises as it speeds up the healing process by repairing damaged tissues.
  • Infections: Coconut oil is very effective against a variety of infections due to its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. According to the Coconut Research Center, coconut oil kills viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, SARS, etc. It also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, etc. Coconut oil is also effective on fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, etc.
  • Liver: The presence of medium chain triglycerides and fatty acids helps in preventing liver diseases as they substances are easily converted into energy when they reach the liver, thus reducing work load on the liver and also preventing accumulation of fat.
  • Kidney: Coconut oil helps in preventing kidney and gall bladder diseases. It also helps in dissolving kidney stones.
  • Diabetes: Coconut oil helps in controlling blood sugar, and improves the secretion of insulin. It also helps in effective utilization of blood glucose, thereby preventing and treating diabetes.
  • Bones: As mentioned earlier, coconut oil improves the ability of our body to absorb important minerals. These include calcium and magnesium which are necessary for development of bones. Thus coconut oil is very useful to women who are prone to osteoporosis after middle age.
  • Dental Care: Calcium is an important element present in teeth. Since coconut oil facilitates absorption of calcium by the body, it helps in getting strong teeth. Coconut oil also stops tooth decay.
  • HIV and Cancer: It is believed that coconut oil plays an instrumental role in reducing viral susceptibility of HIV and cancer patients.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Purging your Kitchen of bad vices

Cleaning out your kitchen is a great and very important starting point. You don't want to crave any of your "bad habits" or "old junk food vices" in the beginning of your Vegan life style change.  There's going to be many difficult times all on their own, don't add to them if you can help it!  Set your self up for success in your first 3 months.  I say 3 months because that is your first goal to strive for after your first 30 days.  If you can be healthy & successful for 3 got it for life and your mindset is in the right place for success!

When you purge your cabinets and get rid of the things you don't "want" to eat anymore, try to recycle and maybe give to your neighbor, it will make you feel better than just throwing it away and "wasting" food.

Best place to start is your "munchie" cabinet and fridge.  Look at the ingredients in everything, if it contains any dairy or milk products it's no good!  First big No No is "hydrogenated oils".  Hydrogenated oils basically are oils in which the essential fatty acids have been converted to a different form chemically and has been proven to cause very negative health effects.  Hydrogenated oils are made by forcing hydrogen gas into oil at high pressure.  Both animal and vegetable fats can be and are hydrogenated!  In general the more solid the oil is the more hydrogenated it is.  The best examples of this is "Crisco and Margarine.  When Hydrogenated oils are made, there's healthy fats being converted into a new type of fatty acid, known as a Trans fat.  Trans fats are not good at all for our health or bodies!!

When your reading labels look for Cholesterol.  If the products have even 1% of Cholesterol in them it's not vegan.  Cholesterol is not found in any plant-based product, therefore it comes from some sort of animal-derived ingredient.

Always check the allergy list at the end of the ingredients.  It will say " This product contains; milk, egg, soy and wheat".  Basically if anything non-vegan is listed put it back on the shelf or throw it away if purging your home cabinets.

Look for animal-derived ingredients such as; Vitamin D3, vitamin D2, (Vitamin D is usually made from "Lanolin", which is a waxy fat extracted from sheep wool), Casein (milk protein which finds its way into soy cheese), Whey, Honey and anything with Lactose (thought most other LAC ingredients are fine).

Try to avoid "Natural coloring", in this case your better off choosing "Artificial coloring.  This may sound strange but natural coloring usually comes from insect products.

Basically look for products with the fewest ingredients in them!  It's most likely less processed and and easier to read!!

One more thing, commonly confused ingredients that are Vegan:  Calcium compounds, caramel color, cocoa butter, cooking charcoal, enriched flour, enzymes (other than rennin), Heinz ketchup, lecithin, molasses, paraffin, red # 40 and of course ALL SPICES!

Pumpkin Cheese Cake

Pumpkin Cheese Cake
This easy to make yummy recipe will be a hit with all your friends & family over the Holidays!

Chocolate Crust
2 cups (8.5 oz) Chocolate wafer cookie crumbs
6 TBSP Vegan Margarine, melted

Pumpkin "cheese" Cake Filling
2- (8 oz) containers of vegan cream cheese
1 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup plain soy creamer or coconut milk
1 TSP vanilla extract
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 TSP ground cinnamon
1/2 TSP ground allspice
1/2 TSP ground nutmeg
1/2 TSP salt

Cookie Crust
Preheat oven to 350 and lightly grease a 9 inch baking pan.  Crush your cookie crumbs very fine and even, almost to a powdery texture.  This may require a food processor or a spice grinder.  
Move crumbs into a small bowl, mix in the melted margarine until all crumbs are moistened.
Press the crust firmly into the prepared pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Set aside and lower oven temperature to 325.

Cheese Cake filling
Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until smooth.  Pour the filling on top of your baked crust, spread it out evenly and smooth down with a spatula.  
Bake for 45-50 minutes, although it may not seem done it is. 
Cool completely before chilling for 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.  It should be solid and sliceable when ready to serve!

Excellent vegan suggestions:
Cream Cheese- Tofutti: Better than cream cheese (the kind without Hydrogenated oils.)
Margarine- Earth Balance: natural buttery spread

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Just getting started?

Take a deep breathe and know very shortly you will be a "pro" in your new vegan lifestyle!
The first step in your transformation as a vegan is knowing there's a ton of food options where ever you go, just learn how to order when your out and don't be afraid to ask for a certain meal. Also Vegan living allows a lot of creativity in your cooking. Yes you have to cook!!! It's very important that you start taking better care of yourself through planing & prepping out your meals. Try not to eat out as much when you are starting off, you may get frustrated and honestly you may order something with beef broth or dairy products in it and not know it until you get home a feel like crap!

I run into so many people who talk about how unsuccessful their last diet was or they just gave up because it was too hard and it didn't fit into their lifestyle after a while. The truth is being vegan is your lifestyle, it's not a diet or trendy have to be serious about healthy living and make this your forever lifestyle change!! It's all about the investment and time your putting into yourself...starting with everything you eat. " You are what you eat" we have all heard that quote! If you eat something greasy don't you feel like crap? Our bodies communicate with us on what it wants to eat or never eat again, it is our job to listen and follow what its telling us. Start a journal of what you eat, track how you feel 10 minutes and 1 hour after eating. Write down how you feel the next day and keep a log of what foods are good and not so good for your system. Listening and following through is key to a successful healthy lifestyle.