Tag Archives: nutrition

Ginger Squash Soup FTW!

Sometimes when it’s raining sideways and the sky is grey (which happens often in South Florida during the summer) you just want comfort food. We decided that squash soup with ginger and grilled cheese would fit the bill for a pair of hungry martial artists so this is what we gathered:

1 piece of ginger, (this will make it spicy and fragrant, add as little or as much as you like. Our piece was a little smaller than my palm)

1 carton of silken tofu

20 ounces of squash puree

1 tbsp Thai chili paste

1 tbsp syrup or sugar

1 cube of bouillon

1 pinch of cinnamon

1 pinch of nutmeg

salt to taste

I blended up the tofu (I used a box of Mori-Nu soft silken tofu) and ginger until it was creamy and combined it with the squash in a large pan. I used 2 boxes of Cascadian farms frozen winter squash puree.

I added all of the seasonings, adjusted them as needed and stirred until it was thoroughly mixed and heated through. I also happened to pick up some vegan gluten-free olive bread at a local market and melted some Follow Your Heart mozzarella in the oven. It took about 7 minutes at 350F/180C to get bubbly and melty.

The earthy buttery savory flavors in the grilled cheese perfectly complimented the spicy floral sweet squash soup. Brent isn’t a big fan of squash but when I mentioned making a similar soup with carrots, he got excited. This particular dish is remarkably low in calories for how rich and creamy it is. The whole pot has about 320 calories and easily feeds 2 hungry people. It’s loaded with fiber, vitamin A and protein in addition to antioxidants and trace nutrients from squash, soy, chili, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger that are of particular interest to scientists.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Move over lunch meat, it’s TEMPEH!

Tempeh is a vegan food product made from fermented soybeans. Before you turn your nose up at the idea of something being fermented, remember you’ve probably eaten a number of other fermented products including all alcohol, leavened bread, yogurt, buttermilk and cheeses. Fermentation adds a number of unique compounds not normally abundant in soy, in particular B vitamins. Vegans don’t always get enough B vitamins so it’s good to know good sources of these crucial nutrients along with protein, iron, calcium and trace nutrients like isoflavones and flavones that studies suggest may have preventative effects for heart disease and cancer.

We’re eating some tempeh that I see at a lot of supermarkets here in South Florida. It’s pre-marinated in a variety of flavors. We especially like this one (shown below)

I usually treat it like bacon except that it’s actually good for you.

I browned it lightly in a non-stick skillet and wrapped it up in a cabbage leaf with greens, bell pepper, and some Follow Your Heart sesame miso dressing that we’ve been enjoying for salads.

I’m a big fan of tempeh and I hope you’ll get to know it a little better if you’re not friendly already. It’s awesome!

This is Christie, signing off.

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Saag with Sweet Potato

Brent and I really love Indian food. We make several versions of Americanized favorites including saag. Typically saag is a spinach based sauce flavored with cilantro, chili and turmeric and usually includes chunks of potato, mushroom, and/or paneer. Paneer is a bland home-made cheese so we use tofu that we’ve marinated in lime juice instead. Today, however, we’re using cubes of sweet potato because we had a random sweet potato floating around the apartment (I just had a funny mental image). We put the following into the blender for a creamy base:

1 box of MoriNu soft silken tofu (If you’ve got a soy allergy, soak 1/2 cup of cashews overnight, drain them and add to your blender. This actually tastes marginally better but adds a lot of fat)

1 thumb sized piece of turmeric or 1 tsp powdered turmeric

5-7 cloves of garlic

a generous pinch of cinnamon

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeño pepper or generous spoon of chili paste

1 tablespoon of coconut sugar

This mixture was blended until creamy. Then I added the following greens in the following order, blending thoroughly between:

1 bunch cilantro (stems and leaves)

1 bunch of Swiss chard or mustard greens

1 bunch of spinach

The cilantro goes in first because the stems need to get cut finely. The stems have a lot of flavor. Swiss chard will make a milder saag, mustard greens will make it spicier. Spinach is just a wondrous vegetable. EAT IT!!! Frozen greens work fine for this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I transferred the contents of the blender to my big pan and rinsed out the blender with almond milk (use soy if you’ve got a nut allergy) and put the milk into the pan. I started to heat it and added 1 sweet potato cut into bite sized pieces. A carton of water packed tofu or a few handfuls of mushrooms are great veggies to add to your saag.

Heat the saag through and stir frequently until the potato is cooked. It should be thick and make giant messy bubbles if unattended (hence the stirring).

This will take about half an hour. Add water, salt, spices, and pepper as needed. I also use a garam masala spice mix  that an Indian colleague brought me from his home Hyderabad instead of pepper. Cracked black pepper is better for most tastes. It looks like sewage but tastes like awesome!

We served this with quinoa that we prepared in the microwave with several green cardamom pods. I love saag and know it’s not for everyone. It’s very herbal and spicy and is too vegetal for some. That being said, We ate the whole pan and all the quinoa too… I’ve got a blood donation coming up and I need the iron and vitamin K!

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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The Cheese Post 3.0

We’re back reviewing more vegan cheeses because even when the ‘cheese’ is gross… at least it’s entertaining. I love cheese and it’s something I really miss as a vegan. Fortunately, some clever folks have acknowledged and filled this niche market. If you’re looking for reviews of  cream cheese or other traditional cheese substitutes we’ve got those covered. Bacon is NOT an Herb also has a comprehensive review of some vegan cheeses. Now on to the new reviews.

Daiya Daiya started making “wedges” as an alternative to their indispensable shreds. We tried the cheddar, jack and havarti with jalapeño and garlic. We tried the jack first. It blew both of our minds the minute we put it in our mouths. It’s cheese! It tastes just like mid-priced jack cheese. It melts into a molten cheesy liquid that would be better as a dip, not so great for grilled cheese (try Follow Your Heart mozzarella instead for sandwiches: it’s usually cheaper and lower calorie) but their shredded Daiya is an excellent stand in for cheese that needs to be stretchier instead of melty.

We put the havarti with jalapeño and garlic into the microwave and used it as a dip for corn chips. It was creamy, cheesy, spicy and gone in just a few minutes. Side note: the packaging doesn’t say “not microwave safe” or “do not microwave this container” but we can assure you, it should. The cheddar rose to the Daiya standard and was distinctly cheddar and delicious. We ended up mixing it with salsa and microwaving it for queso dip. It’s dairy-, gluten-, soy-, and nut- free, except for coconut. The ingredients were processed and it has about the same nutritional profile as regular dairy cheese in terms of fat but without the cholesterol. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly good for you but it’s an excellent comfort food and doesn’t give me pimples like dairy does. They were $6 for just over 7 ounces, possibly less at your local market. I think it’s a good value.

Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso This brand comes in 3 flavors, one of which contains gluten. We tried their spicy gluten-free flavor, “Voodoo”. It wasn’t particularly spicy and wasn’t so much queso as bean dip. Based on the ingredients, nutrients, low calorie count, price and that it was delicious enough to convince two omnivores, we’d definitely buy it again and recommend it again. Their line is soy- egg- nut- and dairy-free and all but one flavor are gluten-free.  It costs $5.50 for 15 ounces.

Punk Rawk Labs We tried their cashew line because the macadamia nut and cashew/mac lines were more expensive and we needed some convincing. We were VERY convinced by the cashew varieties. The smoked cashew was lightly smoked and very creamy and cheesy. The “plain” is anything but plain. The herb was lightly coated with herbs and delicious. Any of these would make an excellent substitute for goat cheese. They didn’t include any nutrition information on the packaging which made me sad but the ingredients themselves were all minimally processed and inoffensive. It reminds me of Dr. Cow for the great raw ingredients and excellent presentation. Being convinced we went ahead and bought the macadamia nut cheese and the blend of cashew and macadamia nut cheese.

We agreed that we really wanted to like the macadamia nut versions but it wasn’t quite our thing. It had a distinct smell that was cheesy and the texture was lovely and te flavor was subtle and mellow. I think having both at your cocktail party would offer a good variety for all sorts of people, but are favorites are definitely the cashew line.  That being said, the cashew nut varieties are a better value than Dr. Cow. Sadly, some cannot enjoy these cheeses because they’re made of nuts. It was $10 for 6 ounces. I don’t think anyone who didn’t know more jiu jitsu than me could keep me from buying this again. I WILL EAT YOUR [cashew nut] CHEESE, PUNK RAWK LABS!!! *ahem* Moving right along…

VegCuisine I tried the Mediterranean Herb Feta and Blue Cheese alternatives and wasn’t impressed. The herb feta was definitely herb but not feta. The blue was also bland. The flavor reminded me more of halloumi than their namesakes. The texture was crumbly bordering on a rubbery feel in my mouth, also reminiscent of halloumi. They were decent additions to salad in terms of adding some texture, nutrition and a vehicle for the salad dressing. I did like most of the ingredients and calorie contents (about half that of traditional cheeses). It cost $4.50 for 6 ounces. I might buy it again for the value, mild flavor and the low calorie count.

We Can’t Say It’s Cheese Wayfare foods makes cheese spreads in 4 flavors. We tried cheddar, Mexi-cheddar and hickory-smoked cheddar. Their hickory-smoked cheddar was distinctly hickory-smoked with a mellow cheesy flavor. The Mexi-cheddar and cheddar were also mild and cheesy but didn’t taste particularly different from one another. We did some damage control and came out with something that was both cheesy and spicy. They don’t need hot sauce to be tasty but we’re all about melt-your-face-off spicy food. It’s 50 calories per 2 tablespoons and the ingredients are fairly processed but they’re soy-, gluten- and nut-free. It cost us $5 for 8 ounces. I would buy it again: it’s low calorie, the flavors are good, it’s a good value for what you get and it’s got some reasonable nutrition to offer like [among other things] calcium and iron. I might even use it instead of cream cheese on toast or in nori rolls!

So this is where the Cheese Post 3.0 has led me: Diaya makes indispensable shredded cheeses and delicious wedges that aren’t particularly good for you but will fill that void for comfort food that dairy cheese used to fill when snacking. I would buy Daiya wedges for occasional snacking and their shreds for pizzas, quesadillas and burritos. Punk Rawk Labs and Dr. Cow make delicious cheeses that are good for you. I would buy it as an appetizer for a nice dinner with guests. Follow Your Heart and Teese make mozzarellas that are fabulous for baking and grilled cheese, are cheaper and lower calorie than some of the competition. Wayfare Foods and Nacho Mom’s make great low calorie dips and spreads. Tofutti cream cheese wins for health and value in the cream cheese department. Eat in the Raw makes a great parmesan style topping for pastas, pizzas, vegetables or whatever you’d normally sprinkle a little parmesan on except that this is a healthful alternative to dairy parmesan.

This concludes this installment of the Cheese Posts. We hope you find the good stuff!

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Mango Margarita POPSICLES!

What is this madness, you say? MANGO MADNESS! Mango is in season and it’s making its way into everything I cook… or don’t cook.

This particular variety is called Irwin and is one of the more common varieties. It is very sweet and soft when ripe and is great for drinks and sauces.

Today I’m making mango margarita popsicles. I sliced up a skinned, pitted mango and added 3-4 slices to each popsicle mold along with a few cilantro leaves, a squeeze of lime, and (for the more daring) a splash of tequila. We use Lunazul tequila because it’s vegan. Lime is really important because these mango are VERY sweet. I also like to use a fork (as above) when I squeeze lemon or lime juice into something, wiggling it back and forth to help break the membranes in the fruit. I find it makes it easier to get more juice out of the fruit and reduces the incidence of citrus-to-eye events. I filled the molds the rest of the way with coconut water.

Here are the popsicles right before they went into the freezer. When they come out, give them a light dusting of salt and put them back into the freezer for 10-15 minutes to let the salt set. Licking up the side will give you all the flavors of the cilantro, salt, mango and lime, or sample each flavor nibble by nibble for the deconstructed version of a mango margarita.

This is my daring food model, trying out my mango margarita pop. Doesn’t he just make it look delectable? Maybe I’m alone but suddenly I want a mango margarita.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Curried Raw Pate with Mango

Raw night strikes again!

Mango is in season so I wanted to make something especially mangoriffic. OMG they’re beautiful!!! Mango are available in Florida starting May well into October and a range of varieties are common in the supermarkets and farmer’s roadside stands. This particular variety is called “Philippine” and have a soft honeyed flavor with a light acid content. Mango are a great source of vitamin C, antioxidant polyphenols, vitamin A and carotein. They’re also rich in prebiotic fiber: that means they can help keep your digestive tract healthy. Mango is the national fruit of India so it’s no mystery that curry is a great flavor element to complement this nutritional powerhouse.

In my blender I combined the following:

1 cup of pumpkin seed pits

1 tbsp of curry powder

t tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp raw tahini

1 tsp chili paste (or to taste)

water as needed

tamari (or salt) and pepper to taste

I blended it until we had a fragrant spread. We added it to a cabbage leaf (yes, I’m still wrapping just about everything up in cabbage leaves in order to facilitate eating it) with some spinach, cilantro and fresh sliced mango. I’m a big fan of how the herbal flavors in cilantro bring out the complex flowery, honey tastes in the mango and how the acid in the mango accentuates the cilantro’s minty and peppery overtones. The myriad of spices in the curry marries everything together for an awesome meal.

It was a perfect storm of flavor in our mouths.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Who needs beef stroganoff? Not this girl.

This sauce is really my interpretation of beef stroganoff. Stroganoff is a Russian dish of sauteed beef served with sour cream. I’m not a fan of beef and dairy and nor is my digestive tract so I’m using mushrooms and tofu for a light version that’s loaded with protein and flavor. I particularly like this recipe with sweet potato or squash gnocchi, but it’s great with regular pasta or over a burger for a new twist on sandwich time. You’ll need the following:

2 tablespoons olive oil
4-6 scallions, chopped
2 cups chopped mushrooms (any kind will do)
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup white wine (recommended)
1 tofu sausage, chopped (optional)
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 box of Mori-nu soft silken tofu
soy milk

Put the tofu into a blender and blend it until it’s smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Put the olive oil into a large fry-pan. Add the scallion, wine and herbs; saute for 7-8 minutes until the onion is soft.

Add the mushrooms. We actually used dried mushrooms because they were around: reconstituting them with distilled water in the microwave.

Add the sausage [if you’re using it.I actually find it boring against the other flavors… and that’s saying something] and the blended tofu. Add soy milk to adjust the texture.

While I was doing that, Brent was making the rice pasta. I imagine serving this over braised seitan would be fabulous!

Apologies for those of you who know I say this just about every time I cook with wine: I often see people using ‘spoiled’ wine for cooking. Those flavors will end up in your food so I can’t recommend cooking with wine you wouldn’t drink: buy a fresh bottle and try it to see if you like it. If you’re not much for wine, this recipe is definitely delicious with just a mushroom herb sauce but I do love the flavors it brings out in the herbs and mushrooms. If you do leave out the wine, I’d add a medium diced onion and 3-4 minced cloves of garlic.

This recipe is a decadent creamy high protein sauce that’s great over vegetables, pasta, on bread or whatever. We like it because it takes so little time to prepare for how delicious it is. Brent even licked the spoon. We hope you get to try it and love it as much as we do.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off.

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Where do you get your protein?

I come from a family that loves meat and dairy. Sound familiar?

My dad doesn't really look like this.

My dad is an avid bow hunter. My mother is down with Paula Dean. My brother and I were certainly a product of them. That is, I freaking loved meat and cheese. Upon challenging myself to be vegan, I had to re-educate myself about what food was good for me. Being disgustingly close to a scientist/vegan makes for delicious amounts of good information.

Ultimately the question from my family is always — always — “How do you get your protein?” Without going into an anthropological diatribe reminding you and them how our LCA likely survived best on nuts and plants gathered rather than from the often rotten scavenged meats the males would kill themselves to get, I will throw down a quick list of vegan goodies that are high in protein.

Peas

Peas are the overlooked powerhouse of the western diet. Not only are they jam packed with vitamins and minerals your body craves, but they offer a generous dose of protein to keep you strong like young bull (5.9g/100g).  Protip : Stay away from canned peas… or canned anything for that matter.

Beans

They don’t just make you toot; they make you strong. A cup of cooked beans can yield 12g of protein. That’s pretty gangster if you ask me. I prefer black beans when I get the choice (read : when cooking). I like the flavor more than green beans, and I stay away from refried beans. While that seems limiting, the nutritional benefit is nothing to scoff at and there are loads of ways to prepare them.

Soy Beans

I had to put these separately as they provide such an insane amount of protein. 68g per cup, is what I’m reading. Unreal. I also had to put this separately as I know some folks who are allergic to soy. That really really really sucks.

Lentils

I love lentils. Lentil soup is amazing. Lentils with rice and quinoa is killer. What’s more is how they provide such an unreal amount of nutritional substance. 18g protein per cup? Yes please. Protip : If you sprout lentils before consumption (soak for more than 8 hours) you get all of the essential amino acids. By themselves.

Seeds

Here’s a fun one. Pumpkin seeds can provide 74g protein per cup. Eat them like sunflower seeds and crack the shell. Or eat them whole when cooking them in something. Better still, grind/blend up the seeds and make the pasty substance into something delicious!

Nuts

Nuts are awesome for protein, but the consequence for all that delicious flavor is a lot of extra fat and whatnot (20g protein per cup, but 48.11g fat too). That’s not to say that one should avoid nuts, but if looking for a lean way to get protein, nuts should be used sparingly. Almonds are a solid go-to and are now made into all sorts of goodies.

Asparagus

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have asparagus. Not a lot of fat, but not a whopping amount of protein either (2.95g protein per cup, .16g fat per cup /underwhelmed). But consider that the human body isn’t meant to get 200g protein a day, folks. Rather, the average should be somewhere around 50-60g for men, 40-50g for the ladies. Then again, I’m not a nutritionist, and these numbers vary on height and weight. This should give you a nice jumping off point, though.

Final Thoughts

By being vegan, you don’t have to sacrifice protein. In fact, you shouldn’t. Your body effing needs it. I hope this post helps point you to the threshold of the myriad of options you have as a vegan to get your protein. Protein doesn’t just come from milk, cheese, eggs, meat. Some of the best protein comes from anything but meat and dairy. That said, this is not a comprehensive list by any means. There are loads of other protein sources out there. What are some of your favorites? Let me know in the comments below.

Peas out, my vegans.

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Tropical Spring Rolls!

It’s raw night again in the Alldestroyers’ household and tonight we’ll be preparing vegan spring rolls. You’ll need the following:

2 medium zucchini, shredded
5 average sized carrots, shredded
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut (sweetened is fine)
1 tbsp ponzu sauce
1/2 tsp lime juice (optional)
1/2 tsp flaked red pepper
a pinch of salt
8-10 rice paper sheets (mine are bahn-trang)
greens or spinach, washed and dried

Start by combining all the vegetables (except for the greens), liquids and seasonings in a bowl. Substitute shredded parsnips if you have a coconut allergy. Mix well and set aside.

Add 1 to 2 cups warm water in a deep plate or shallow bowl. Place a rice paper sheet into the water making sure to dampen both sides thoroughly and remove before it loses it’s stiffness.

Take it out and place it on a clean plate. Don’t worry if it’s still stiff; it’ll soften as it absorbs the water.

Place a handful of greens on one end of the paper closest to you. Add 3-4 heaping spoonfulls of filling onto the greens (if it’s particularly wet, let it drain, squeezing it out between your hands – your kids might like this job).

Dry your hands and start rolling the filled end of the sheet away from you using the greens to control the filling, folding in the sides. Rest it on that edge after closing it until you’re ready to eat it.Try not to place them so close that they’re touching because they’ll stick together and might tear when handled.

This takes some practice but it doesn’t really matter what they look like, right? You should end up with some lovely light, nutritions, filling and delicious spring rolls.

We made a dipping sauce out of basically the same ingredients as in our pakora with some minor changes which complemented the coconut in the spring rolls brilliantly. The proportions were about like this:
1/4 cup of tamarind (we used frozen)
2 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp cinnamon
chili paste to taste

When mango comes into season, we’ll probably make this sauce with pureed mango. I’m monitoring the little baby mango growing on the trees between my train stop and apartment closely. Soon, my friends… very soon.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Easy Veggie Paella

To an omnivore, this is vegetable rice. To a vegan, this is paella. I’m using olives in this recipe as my interpretation of mussels: they’re black (who really cares about mussels… I love the color contrast) and have to be pitted before you can eat them just like you have to shell a mussel… kind of. The Brussels sprouts are just there for fun and tofu makes a nice addition if you’re feeling like it. I would marinade it in lemon juice and cumin with a touch of syrup but we decided on skipping the tofu tonight. We started with the following.
6-10 Brussels sprouts (quartered)
1 cup of dry white wine
3 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup black olives
1/4 white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/4 lbs of peas
Sweet paprika
1 1/2 cups of long grain
1/4 teaspoon of saffron
1 1/2 liters of vegetable stock (from bouillon cubes is fine)
2 tablespoons of minced parsley
I would start by mixing the saffron into the broth and bring it to a boil. In our kitchen, cooking rice and pasta is Brent’s job. He’s much more patient than I am and makes lovely rice and pasta. I stir it too much and end up with a mooshy sticky mess. Add the rice and stir once. Lower the heat and let it boil without stirring. While this was happening, there’s plenty of time for chopping up the veggies and cooking them. Now that the rice is cooking, on to the veggies!
Warm the wine and olive oil with the parsley, paprika, onion and garlic at low heat. Let them simmer until the onion starts to become translucent and then add the peas, olives and bell pepper. When that’s simmered for about 5-8 minutes and the bell peppers are starting to get soft, add the sprouts and toss lightly until they’re just past the bright green stage.
When the top of the rice starts to dry, plop the veggies onto the rice (except for a handful of Brussels sprouts if you want something really pretty). Let them cook for other 10 minutes. Stir the veggies under the rice, using a spatula. Arrange the sprouts on top.
Note on ingredients: the “peas” we added weren’t peas at all. I bought them at my farmer’s market and asked when I paid for them what they were. The guy told me “peas” but they are definitely broad beans. They’re a fine substitute for peas but next time I’ll use the real thing.
EAT IT! This is a fast delicious healthy meal that is sure to please. It’s also got a stunning mix of colors that’s sure to impress whether you fuss over it and arrange the veggies or not.
This is Christie and Brent, signing off.
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