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You knew this was going to happen! I warned any green juice/smoothie-phobics in the previous post. 

With the change of seasons, I have found myself really craving green smoothies. I don’t have a juicer just yet, but it will be one of the first things I buy once I move! Weirdly, I crave them more now, that the temperatures are actually falling (ever so slightly), than I did all summer. I guess that my body understands that this is a bit of a challenging time for our immunities. Cough, Sniff, Cough.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 1.12.12 PMIf any of you have been/ are interested in juicing and smoothies, I am sure you know (or should know!) Kris Carr (http://kriscarr.com), author of the Crazy Sexy Diet. That girl is a powerhouse of health and happiness! She looks 20years younger and she just glows. I want that glow!

At first the cookbook title seems a little silly; another diet book… This is if you don’t know the story. You look closely and this is a girl that has been living with stage 4 cancer for 10years! And not only living, but thriving! A real inspiration to us all. How does she do it? Well, she completely revisited and revolutionised her diet. She now promotes a high raw vegan diet, both gluten free and sugar free. An alkalizing diet, to lower our body’s inflammation. It might sound drastic to some, but really, if you have stage 4 cancer and you decide to eat more kale instead of getting a multiple organ transplant, it doesn’t sound crazy to me! I can suck it up too then! Why not do some prevention.

Turns out, there isn’t too much sucking it up involved. I can’t say I live this lifestyle 100% of the time, but I feel like it’s important to be aware of it so you can make the best decisions for yourself. I think the most important thing is to listen to your body. 

A few days ago I downloaded Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Juices and Succulent Smoothies, an online guide to juicing which has a bunch of awesome recipes. Right away I was interested in Chad Sarno’s AJ’s Power Smoothie. Since he is an amazing raw chef, I trusted him completely for my first smoothie of the season. He claimed it was his daughter’s favorite smoothie, so if a little girl liked it, I can like it too! And yes, it turned out totally amazing! Beautiful bright green, just the right amount of sweetness, and very satisfying. So don’t be shy, bring out those Vitamixes.

IMG_1779Ingredients (for 2 cups)

- 2 cups almond milk
- 1 cup berries
- 1/2 cup frozen mango
- 2 tablespoons almond butter (peanut works well too)
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or 1 date (I didn’t sweeten mine, just taste it and decide)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean
- sprinkle of cinnamon
- 4-5 kale leaves
- handfull of spinach (I just added a bunch of spinach as we don’t have kale here)

Get your glow on!

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That time of year has come, when people around you start coughing, sneezing, blowing their red and runny noses. You can certainly avoid becoming one of them! Hubby and I haven’t caught a seasonal cold in a long time. I realized this the other day when I was cleaning out the ‘pharmacy box’ and 80% of the meds were past their use by dates. We don’t really take meds anymore. When I feel like I am a bit run down or weaker I just take some Echinacea vitamins and they are awesome. I think it is good to take them at the changes of season when people are adjusting to the new weather and light cycle. I also think juices and smoothies help boost your immunity during those times, but more about that over the next few days.

IMG_1481We are in the middle of packing our home since we will be moving up north to Luxembourg in 2 weeks! I am excited and ready for a change. I tend to get a little stir crazy when I live too long in the same place. Anyways, packing boxes always makes you realize how much stuff you really have! I need to get my mug addiction seriously under control! Since I have been packing 24/7, I decided to make a large batch of nourishing and revitilizing miso to last me a few meals. I don’t know what it is about miso, but when I sit down and peacefully enjoy a nice warm bowl of miso, my body just feels so satisfied. I think it must be somehow related to all the sea vegetables I pack inside, I have a slight sea vegetable addiction since NGI! Hubby totally doesn’t understand it!

In culinary school we had a day during our baking segment which was all about ‘converting’. Converting what? Well, converting a traditional (junk food), cookie recipe to a vegan and health supportive one (no refined sugars or flours either). With all the tasting, especially of the first few versions, we ended up with a very sugar high class of moody girls! 

Thankfully, Chef Elliott, one of the friendliest and most charismatic chefs at the Natural Gourmet had already experienced this a bunch of times, and had a proven and reliable remedy. Miso soup.

IMG_1482Not just any miso soup, but probably the best miso soup I have ever had! I am telling you, as soon as the miso made it’s appearance, the entire kitchen calmed down. I don’t know how to describe it, but it has the same effect every time I have it. Hubby thinks I am insane!

This is my version of Chef Elliott’s amazing miso soup!

Ingredients (for a ton of soup to make you happy happy!)

- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 onions, thin slice
- 2 ribs celery, thin slice
- 1 cup sliced dried shiitakes, rehydrated and rinsed
- 1 large piece of kombu
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup wakame, soaked 15mins, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup arame, soaked 15mins, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 lb tofu, large dice
- 8 cups water
- 1 cup shiro miso
- 2 tablespoons dark miso of choice, I use Onozaki rise miso
- 1 bunch scallions, greens sliced for garnish



First, in a large, covered pot sweat the onions, celery, kombu and shiitake in the sesame oil. Sprinkle with salt to help extract the juices. Leave on low for 15mins, stiring once in a while, but keep the lid closed as much as possible. Add the wakame, arame and tofu, sweat with the lid closed another 15mins. Add the water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down and let simmer for another 15mins. Move off the heat and let cool for 15mins, you don’t want to add the miso to boiling water or it will kill the enzymes and probiotics. Take out 2 cups of broth and mix in your miso with a whisk. Once all incorporated, add the miso mix back to the pot. Garnish with scallions and serve.

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IMG_1742I live in a house where Dog = God (Or so the little ones like to think)! So, when I started baking all those (non doggie) cookies recently, I felt 6 eyes closely observing me disapprovingly. Since their treat jar was actually running low, I decided to bake them something too.

When deciding the flavor, it was an easy choice. Just the mention of ‘peanut’ in the house and you have 3 fur balls already in the kitchen before you can say ‘butter’! I decided on peanut butter and molasses treats with some leftover rye flour. I really like rye flour, it has a special ‘countryish’ taste I enjoy, plus it’s really healthy for you, with lots of iron, B6 and magnesium. Same with the molasses, I actually take a tablespoon of molasses a day to keep my iron levels good. 

The trick with dog treats, especially if you make a big batch, is to leave them overnight in the oven (off!), so they have time to really dry out and therefore,  keep for a rather long time in the treat jar (not that they will actually last if your household is anything like mine!). I made them bone shaped this time, but plan to make some Halloween shaped ones soon!

Ingredients (for two dozen bone cookies)

IMG_1754- 2 cups rye flour
- 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
- 1/2 cup cool water + more if needed

Heat oven to 300F (150C)

In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients with a wooden spoon, really working into the peanut butter. Once the peanut butter is well incorporated check if the dough holds together, if not, add a few more teaspoons of water. The dough will be quite dense, but sticky enough to hold together in a ball.

Place the dough on a clean, floured surface and roll out to about 1/4inch thickness. With the cookie cutter of choice, cut out your cookies and place on a prepared baking sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 20minutes. Then turn off the oven, but leave the cookies inside. I leave them overnight to make sure they are nice and dry. Store in a sealed cookie jar. 

These are very good treats to practice the ‘leave it’ trick! Because of the strong peanut smell, they are almost impossible to resist! Only miss pit bull Hope managed to master this skill and to even pose for a picture! So, let’s keep that in mind before judging these amazing dogs!

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100% Rock ‘n’ Roll Pit Bull APPROVED!

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Today I want to talk about a totally unexpected find! Hubby and I were taking a road-trip in February that unexpectedly took us through Charlotte, NC (lost my passport, had to drive back to NYC – long and stressful story!). I had always wanted to visit so we took a quick drive around; nothing like having your priorities straight!. Once again, we got hungry and decided to try and find a vegan restaurant. I was totally surprised to see all the great options! I love when this happens. I sometimes feel like there are not many vegans and vegan places and I LOVE being proven wrong. We have so many options every time. Brilliant!

In Charlotte, we even found a RAW vegan place!  Since I love to try different raw places, I dragged the hubby in for lunch at Lula’s Living Kitchen. We took a while to find the place because it is a little hidden. It is a small and totally adorable entrance with flowers and cute little outdoor seating. In we went, not expecting anything and boy were we in for a treat!

Already, the vibe in the cozy room was one for me. Everyone looked super friendly and rather cool. Right away my attention was caught by the most amazing juice collection! Even better, packaged in cute glass jars. All the main ingredients were organic and if possible, local. They even have juice cleanses.

We sat outside and I started with a Pina Colada Smoothie, while I studied the exciting menu. The smoothie was great; pineapple, banana and coconut milk. Yes please!

For the entrees, I was undecided between the:

IMG_0062LIVING BURRITO

Sunflower seed refried beans, cauliflower rice, salsa verde, pico de gallo, onion, sprouts and cashew sour cream wrapped in a collard leaf. Served with a side of our house hot sauce and a local green salad

RAWCO TACO SALAD

Slices of avocado, pico de gallo, meaty walnut‐almond crumbles and cashew sour cream atop a bed of organic lettuce. Served with hot sauce and raw, herbed veggie triangles

LUNASAGNA

Layers of tender, crisp zucchini noodles, sun‐dried tomato sauce and mushrooms. This dish gets rave reviews for its velvety, vegan cashew‐basil cheese made in house. Served with a local green salad

 

I finally decided on the Rawco Taco Salad. It was AMAZING! The walnut-almond crumbles idea isn’t something I had tried before and it really worked very well in the dish. I didn’t feel like I was eating nuts, or train mix! The cashew cream was decadent and the veggie triangles were really interesting, a type of dehydrated cracker. A really good ‘taco’!

IMG_0059My hubby even decided to get lunch there after repeating on the way that he would stop for a vegan pizza at another place, but even him (totally allergic to healthy food!) couldn’t resist this charming spot and their great menu! He decided on their Fire and Brimstone veggie burger - 

Our famous quinoa‐kamut veggie burger served on locally baked, vegan, multigrain bread.

Spiced with chipotle sunflower hummus, onion, cucumber, salsa verde and house hot sauce.

He was super happy and excited with it! It really had quite a kick and delicious flavor. It was also incredibly beautiful and colorful. It really belonged with the other raw dishes. It was a healthy alternative for people who might not feel comfortable with raw food just yet.

Sadly, we didn’t have time to hang around as we actually had lost a ton of time and had a long way to go still. So we took our lunch with us and had it in along the way. I would totally go back to Charlotte just to go back to that restaurant! Their breakfast menu sounded mind blowing as well!

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MoFo 2013 – Chocolate!

IMG_1694Baking awesome vegan cookies should come with a warning – WILL HAVE PEOPLE BEGGING FOR MORE! This is especially true if you send the hubby to the office along with a box of fresh cookies. A few days later you start getting comments like, ‘when are you thinking of testing more cookie recipes?’ or, ‘so and so broke up with his girlfriend and needs a pick me up’ etc etc. Obviously, if you consider yourself a vegan cookie fairy, bringing happiness and peace to the world with decadent cookies, or if you just want to avoid an office revolution; HOW can you resist!  So, off I went, with the excuse of an office-full of hungry men (and a few curious ladies ‘on a diet’), I decided to take the advantage of having ‘mouths to feed’ to try another cookie recipe from my current cookbook craze, Bake and Destroy.

Since they loved last week’s Cowboy cookies so much, I decided to make their chocoholic brothers, aka German’s Chocolate Cookies. Holy Moly! JACKPOT! 

Like my cowboy cookies, I switched up a few ingredients;  replacing the flours with all whole wheatIMG_1691 pastry flour, reducing and replacing the sugar with a mix of brown sugar and maple syrup, and replacing the canola oil with coconut oil. I toasted both the pecans and coconut shreds before folding them in the batter. I also added larger chunks of broken up chocolate instead of chocolate chips. Wow, it made for a pretty darn good cookie! Like suggested on the recipe, I undercooked them a bit and they turned out to be the softest and most decadent chocolate cookies! 

I think tuning down the amount of sugar in chocolate recipes is especially good because I prefer the more bitter chocolates, where the chocolate flavor really pops. And it totally did in these cookies, with the unexpected crunch from pieces of pecans… YUM!!!

I must admit, I did keep a few for myself…!

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MoFo 2013 – Addicted!

IMG_2094We all know I have a weak spot for cool cookbooks (my exploding bookshelf is a clear reminder!), and Bake and Destroy has totally gotten my attention. After that amazing french toast the other day, I started browsing the savory recipes to see what else was hiding in there. It is hard to resist decadent cookbooks with amazing pictures! Plus, with the weather getting cooler, I am really craving some fall comfort food! Therefore, last night, I decided to try making the Samosa Potpie. I never make Samosas; but Tibits, one of the few vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Switzerland, makes amazing ones. Since it is almost the season of apple pies, pumpkin pies and other favorites, I thought I would get my pie groove back. 

They key to making any type of pie crust is patience. So, put some nice music on and don’t rush magic! 

I found that the separate pie crust recipe was really simple and easy to handle. It called for half all purpose flour and half whole wheat, but I just used all whole wheat pastry flour. I like the taste of whole wheat better and I feel it is somewhat healthier! Instead of the shortening I used non hydrogenated margarine and it turned out super. It was really soft and easy to roll out, yet it was sturdy enough to easily be shaped into the pie pan without breaking apart or stretching infinitely. So far so good!

IMG_2095The filling was made of awesome things like potatoes  tomatoes, ginger, chiles, peas and spinach. What I didn’t like so much was the ‘cream’ made with margarine, flour, soy milk and curry. I felt like it kept too much of that ‘margariney’ taste. I think next time I will make it like I make béchamel sauce, only with curry added. 

All in all it turned out really great. The crust was nice and thin, crunchy and flaky. The inside was hardy and very creamy. Plus it really was very pretty to look at. Hubby totally loved it! The recipe makes enough for a 9inch pie, therefore we had enough leftovers for lunch. I feel like the pie was even better the day after! The flavors had really developed and the spice was more pronounced (something both the hubby and I like), sort of like vegetable curry.

I served it with a nice fresh side salad and it was awesome! This is definitely something I would confidently serve non-vegan guests. 

Anyone running out to buy the cookbook yet? Because I am warning you, I have some chocolate cookies in the oven that might push you over the edge! I feel like I will be cooking my way through this cookbook. It might be time I get myself a juicer to fast away all this craziness!

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IMG_2076Today I wanted to stray a little from my own kitchen and talk about one of my favorite restaurants around here. This weekend, hubby and I went to Milano for ‘date night’. Whenever we have a special evening or want to bring friends to an original restaurant, we go to Joia. Joia, meaning joy in italian (but written a ‘wrong way’) is an all vegetarian restaurant (everything can be made vegan – 75% of their menu is already vegan) that is super artistic and original. It is one of the few vegetarian restaurants that also has a Michelin star. What I love the most is the way every dish has a story and imaginative name. You feel like a lot of thought has gone into their creation. Their plating is also pretty amazing, every dish is like art.

Every time we plan an evening there we reserve ahead and let them know we are 2 vegans. This usually gets us very attentive service (and very KIND! Unlike most places.) Once, the bread roll of the day was a brioche and we got our own vegan ones made. That was beyond nice. The great thing is that a lot of the menu is also gluten free. So, everyone can find something to indulge in while there.

Hubby and I usually get the tasting menu. We eventually decided to do this after trying to order our own plates a few times and never enjoying the experience as much. Reasons why I love the menus: one, being that they know what plates work best with others, while we tended to order very similar things. Second, you get more variety as the portions are smaller and therefore you can really taste the best the kitchen has to offer, without feeling like you are going to explode. This was our menu this week, each dish name/ description doesn’t tell you a lot about the dish. I took some pictures of my favorite courses, excuse the really bad lighting!

L’Enfasi della Natura

Wild

Di non solo pane

Il sole a occidente

L’ombelico del mondo

Il tao della farfalla

Madre Terra

Il dolce che preferite

Dinner was a total discovery as usual. I wasn’t crazy about the first two dishes as I felt like they missed some sort of ‘wow’ factor, so I didn’t take any pictures of them either! The ‘Di non solo pane’ (‘of not only bread’) was a multicolored ball of tiny cubed pieces of veggies (carrots, celery..) stuck together by vegan mayo and all encompassing a soft ball of bread and wasabi. The look was great, but you tasted the mayo way too much. It overpowered all the actual veggie flavors. I felt like it was too acidic, and I don’t do well with acidic foods.

My favorite dish was the ‘Il sole a occidente’ (picture up top). The large raviolo was gluten free and made from corn flour, steamed and filled with porcini mushrooms and cauliflower. The green soup was warm zucchini cream. I loved it!

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The risotto dish was ‘L’ombelico del mondo’ (center of the world). The beautiful pink risotto was made with blueberries and, it was lovely. As a vegan option we didn’t get the usual dairy on the top but we got a delicate bean paste to mix into the risotto. It was completed with some roasted seasonal vegetables and mushroom.

IMG_2081Another thing I like about this restaurant is that it always puts a good emphasis on raw foods. The first 2 courses were mostly raw and the last course before dessert went back to raw again. I like to think it gives a good balance of vitamins and cooking techniques. The last savory course was the ‘Il tao della farfalla’ (the tao of the butterfly), a raw roll made to look like a butterfly. The stuffing was made of sprouted quinoa, smoked cauliflower, shiitake and ginger. And the sauce was a delicious raspberry puree. I really liked this course. I loved the little smoky flavor it had.

IMG_2084Since you could pick the dessert, hubby and I got two different ones. Hubby went for the ‘Gong’ which is a very famous/popular dessert which is usually not vegan! For this menu they made it vegan using almond milk mousse. So we obviously wanted to try it. The Gong is a sort of parfait served in a closed jar which you open once the waiter has hit and actual gong disk. It is really a creative dessert. Usually, over winter they have chestnut cream inside which is to die for! This time it was layers of wild berries, corn crumble, raspberry jam, vanilla and mint and some apricot compote. It was delicious.

IMG_2089My dessert was the typical choice for a chocoholic. The ’5 Minutes’ is a medley of chocolate desserts which you need to eat in more than 5 minutes. They serve it with a 5 minute hourglass and it’s super fun. It’s all about taking time to enjoy life. Or in this case, chocolate! Served was a chocolate and raspberry terrine, a raw chocolate mousse, a coconut truffle and a palate cleanser of melon. Surprisingly enough, my favorite component was the coconut truffle! Best thing all evening! It was so flavorful and totally decadent, I loved it!

So, this was our little escapade to Italy! Now back to my own kitchen!

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