Friday, December 31, 2010

How To Make A Virgin Cosmo - Ways To Avoid A Hangover On New Year's Eve

Virgin Cosmo
Are You Celebrating the End of 2010 or Just Glad That It's Over?
There are many years when we feel blessed and look back with joy over the many happy events that transpired. And then there are times when we end the year feeling as though we were run over by a freight train and are just happy to see it end.  In either case, whether we are joyous or trying to drown our sorrows, tradition has us breaking out the hooch.
The beginning of a year should bring us new goals and hope for the future. We need to feel our best and start the year grounded and inspired. Unfortunately, many a new year’s celebration leaves us crawling out of the bed the next morning wondering how we are going to get through the day, no less the next year. I’m not saying to skip that New Year’s Eve party. I’d just like to share some tips on how to have a good time and not regret it in the morning.

Feeling good about yourself
Whenever I drink a glass of club soda or some faux alcoholic concoction, I think of Robin Williams’ “Live at the Met” performance.  In the skit, he is a recovering alcoholic (which, as it turns out, was not a stretch).  He’s standing at a party with a glass of club soda, obviously upset as he watches others with real drinks. His hand is shaking so badly that the soda is pouring all over the place and he looks out and proclaims,  “I feel so f&%$’ing good about myself”! 
Comedy skit aside, waking up without a hangover on New Year’s Day does make you feel good about yourself. The best I’ve ever felt about myself on New Year’s Day was when Doug and I ran a 5K fun run at midnight on New Years. But that’s not very practical, especially in the many parts of the country buried in snow right now.

Preventing a Hangover
The most fail-safe way of preventing a hangover is to eat more and drink less. To do this, you need a plan BEFORE you start, otherwise you won’t make very good decisions once your start drinking. Here are a few tips:
• Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Munch on something high in fat, like nuts. Better yet, have a full meal.
• Pick one alcoholic beverage for the night. Don’t mix. Lighter alcohols, like vodka or white wine, are less damaging than dark liquors, like bourbon. Darker alcohols contain more congeners - the toxins that are formed during fermentation. Congeners are responsible for the hangover “headache”. Red wine has more congeners than white wine.
• A good B complex multi vitamin, containing vitamin B1, will help break down alcohol.
• Drinking one or two non-alcoholic drinks (see recipe for a Virgin Cosmo) or a tall glass of water for each alcoholic drink you consume will help keep you hydrated. Or stick with the Virgin Cosmos all night and skip the alcohol completely.
• I always take milk thistle before going to bed as it helps protects the liver against toxicity from alcohol. It works like a charm!

Cosmo vs. Virgin Cosmo
It’s hard to stand around at a party with a glass of water in your hand. But having a nice martini glass with a Virgin Cosmo makes it a lot easier. Besides the hangover factor, compare the calories in a regular vs. a Virgin Cosmo.

A single regular Cosmo has:
1 ½ oz Vodka
¾ oz Triple Sec
1 oz fresh lime juice
¾ oz cranberry juice

This 4 oz. serving has 192 calories and 14 grams of carbohydrates. The calories can add up pretty quickly.

Concentrated cranberry juice

Virgin Cosmo
[makes 2 drinks]
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons Pellegrino sparkling water
2 tablespoons cranberry juice concentrate
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
4 teaspoons agave nectar

Shake with ice and serve in a martini glass or mix and serve with ice in a cocktail glass.
Each 4 oz serving is only 68.5 calories and 18 grams of carbohydrates. 
For fewer calories, replace some or all of the agave nectar with a few drops of liquid stevia. For variation, try replacing the cranberry juice with pomegranate concentrate. 

Happy New Year!
I'll be back tomorrow with my annual New Year's Black Eyed Pea recipe to bring us luck in 2011!

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Simple Vegan Brussels Sprouts With Garlic

My Favorite Way to Cook Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite veggies. I love them raw or cooked (see Raw Vegan Brussels Sprouts Salad with Orange Chia Seed Vinaigrette). Today's recipe is a very simple and flavorful way to cook Brussels sprouts. Cooking them in a bit of broth with a touch of olive oil gives them an extremely creamy texture. Since the olive oil is in several cups of broth which is drained before serving, you get the flavor of the oil and you don't have the fat calories to worry about.

Penzeys vegetable soup base and seasoning

Soup Base Adds Extra Flavor
I find that simmering the Brussels sprouts in vegetable stock or a soup base mixed with water adds some extra flavor. A vegetable soup base, like this one shown by Penzeys, is easy to mix up. Adding 3/4 teaspoon to 1 cup of water makes a cup of broth. You only need to make exactly as much broth as you need. This is far better than opening a can or box of veggie broth and wondering what to do with the rest when you only need a small amount. 
Simmer Brussels sprouts in one single layer.

Vegan Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
[makes 6 servings]
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced (1 heaping tablespoon)
2 cups veggie broth
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Cut about a quarter inch off the bottom of each Brussels sprout, remove outer leaves and wash.
In a large Dutch oven or extra wide sauce pan with a lid, heat olive oil and add garlic. Stir until fragrant, only for a minute. 
Add Brussels sprouts and stir until coated.
Add broth, salt and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, lower the heat and cover.
Cook until fork tender. Drain and serve.

One half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has only 28 calories, has zero fat and cholesterol, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein, and 2 grams of dietary fiber. They are even a source of essential fatty acids providing 135 mg of omega 3 and 62 mg of omega 6 fatty acids per 1/2 cup.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Simple Raw Seasonal Dessert - Serve Alone Or With Raw Or Baked Vegan Cookies

Sometimes Simple is Enough
When I was a child, many 4 hour Italian Sunday dinners were ended with a simple combination of fruit and nuts. Occasionally there was also plate of pignoli cookies or some pastry, but the fruit and nuts always appeared. It's a wonderful tradition and I'm afraid it got lost over the years so today while in the market, I loaded up on beautiful Satsuma oranges, Medjool dates and an assortment of un-shelled nuts. I just wanted to take the opportunity to remind you that a very simple presentation of seasonal fruit and nuts can be a very satisfying way to end a meal.

Satsuma Oranges
Winter is the peak season for this lovely citrus fruit. Satsumas are sweet and have thick skin that practically falls off unlike some tangerines that are so difficult to peel. You can buy them with a few leaves still attached which adds to their artistic presentation.

Nuts in their Shell
There are several reasons that I like nuts in their shell. First, they are raw - not roasted, not blanched, not baked - just raw with their essential fatty acids intact. You can also keep nuts in their shells at room temperature for up to a year if stored in a cool, dry place. The sooner you eat them, however, the better since the oils in nuts can go rancid. Eating nuts with shells also protects you from eating too many. Nuts are very high in calories and even though they are very good for your heart, they aren't always good for your waistline. The process of cracking and shelling the nuts certainly slows you down giving your body time for it to remind itself that it is full! Today I bought a combination of Brazil nuts, Pecans, Walnuts and Hazelnuts.

On Special Occasions, Serve with Cookies
If you would like to add some healthy cookies to this dessert presentation after a special meal, try Raw Vegan Chocolate Almond Macaroons, Raw Vegan Texas Pecan Pralines, Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries or Vegan Crystallized Ginger Cookies.

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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies With Walnuts And Cranberries - An Old Favorite "Veganized"

"Veganizing" an Old Favorite
In the past I posted a vegetarian version of this cookie recipe that used organic butter and eggs. Since this site has gone vegan, I'm reposting the recipe using Earth Balance buttery spread, Ener-G egg replacer, vegan sugar and vegan chocolate chips. It comes out just as good and they are less than 80 calories per cookies. Another healthy cookie you can bake for Christmas!


Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Cranberries
[makes 2 dozen "petite" cookies]
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup Sucanat or organic cane sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons Ener-G egg replacer
2 tablespoons warm water
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 cups white whole wheat or oat flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
1/4 cup raw English walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Thoroughly mix the egg replacer and water and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine applesauce, sugar, buttery spread, and vanilla and mix well with an electric beater or fork. Add the egg replacer mixture and beat until mixed in.
In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking powder and salt and mix well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly with the electric beater or fork.
Fold in the cranberries, walnuts and chocolate chips and drop 24 tablespoons of this mixture on to a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 12 to 13 minutes or until lightly brown. Remove from oven, let sit on the cookie sheet for 1 to 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Per cookie: 78.6 calories, 3.6 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.3 g protein, 10.9 g carbohydrates, and 1.1 g dietary fiber.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vegan Crystallized Ginger Cookies - A Wonderful Low Calorie Christmas Cookie

Whole Foods 365 offers vegan sugar and chocolate chips.

Beat ingredients with an electric hand beater for best results.

Drop batter onto cookie sheet, shape and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake 9 to 10 minutes until fluffy, firm and cracked.

Baking Cookies - A Holiday Tradition
Thanksgiving is all about the big meal but Christmas is all about the cookies! One of my favorites are ginger cookies, especially when they have little chunks of crystallized ginger in them.
This recipe is quite a bit healthier than most because they are made with less sugar and fat.

Can a Cookie be Healthy?
All cookies should be eaten in moderation but this cookie actually has some health benefits.
This recipe uses a combination of whole grain flours: white whole wheat and oat flour. Ginger cookies are also made with black strap molasses which is a very good source of iron, calcium, (both of which are critical in the vegan diet), copper, manganese, potassium and magnesium. Ginger has many benefits such as reducing nausea and soothing upset stomachs and is also known to reduce inflammation. Ginger is also used for clearing up congestion due to colds.
Applesauce replaces some of the fat and stevia replaces half of the sugar typically used in ginger cookie recipes so the calorie count for each cookie is only 62 calories! So as far as cookies go, these are pretty guilt-free!


Vegan Crystallized Ginger Cookies
[makes 3 dozen]
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup oat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
8 packets stevia
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup organic brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup Earth Balance or other vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 1/2 teaspoons EnerG egg replacer in 2 tablespoons warm water, mixed thoroughly *
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped
1 tablespoon organic cane sugar for sprinkling

* equivalent of one egg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a cookie sheet.
In a medium bowl, mix together wheat and oat flours, baking soda, stevia, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves and set aside.
In a large bowl, place applesauce, brown sugar, vanilla, Earth Balance, soy milk, egg replacer mixture and blackstrap molasses. Beat together well with an electric hand beater, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary. If you don't have a hand beater, beat with a whisk.
Add the dry ingredients and beat again until combined.
Add the crystallized ginger and beat again until the ginger pieces are mixed in uniformly (they tend to clump together).
Drop teaspoons of batter onto a greased cookie sheet. Once the batter is on the sheet, you can flatten it and form it with your fingers. I baked one dozen cookies per sheet (they spread out when baking) and made 3 batches. Once you've formed the batter into flat, round cookies, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of organic cane sugar over each dozen cookies.
Bake for 9 to 10 minutes.
Remove from oven, let sit for about a minute and carefully remove cookies with a thin spatula onto a cooling rack. Cool and eat or eat them warm. They will keep for days.

Per cookie: 62 calories, 1.9 g fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.8 g protein, 9.2 g carbohydrate and 0.6 g dietary fiber.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Roasted Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto - My Family's Favorite Vegetarian Dish For Christmas! Plus A Recipe For Vegan Parmesan.

Chanterelle mushrooms have a rich, meaty flavor.

Roast chanterelles with shallots and thyme.

Nutritional yeast, garlic, salt and parsley for a vegan parmesan.

A Special Holiday DIsh
I made this dish last night for an early Christmas celebration with friends. After watching me stir this constantly for 40 minutes, my girlfriend said, "no wonder no one every makes this!"
So beware! Unlike most of my recipes that are simple and quick, this dish takes work but it's worth every minute and is one of my family's very favorite meals.
If you are making this for the holidays, make sure you've got help with the other dishes or someone there to help stir or remind you to add broth. My good friend and ex-next door neighbor LIsa and I always made this dish together. It made the stirring more fun - lots of time to chat and sip some wine!

This golden, wild mushroom is a chef's dream. Their rich, meaty flavor makes them perfect for a vegan or vegetarian meal. They are very pricey (I paid around $20 a pound yesterday but a few weeks ago they were on sale for $15 a pound) but they are worth every penny and it only takes a half pound in this recipe to serve 5 to 6 people.

Timing is Everything
I'm kind of a nazi when it comes to serving risotto. It must be eaten the minute it is ready! So if you are serving a soup or salad with dinner, it must either be served with the risotto or after it. You can't make it and let the risotto sit on the stove. It should be served "tender to bite".

Can Risotto be Vegan?
Risotto is often made with lots of butter and sometimes cream. It also is usually finished with more butter and a good parmesan cheese. Chicken broth is often used for the stock. Vegetarians can just substitute veggie broth and they are good to go. To make it vegan, I cook it with extra virgin olive oil and Earth Balance vegan buttery spread.
Parmesan is difficult to replace but my daughter-in-law, Karina, uses a combination of vegetarian nutritional yeast, garlic powder, sea salt and dried parsley flakes. I tried this last night and it was wonderful.

If I haven't scared you off with the price of the chanterelles and the difficulty and critical timing of the dish, here's the recipe. Trust me, it's worth the time and trouble!

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Roasted Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto
[makes 6 servings]
For the roasted chanterelles (make ahead)
1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread
8 ounces rinsed chanterelle mushrooms, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 peeled shallot, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the risotto
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
6 cups veggie broth
1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread
Vegan parmesan to taste (vegetarians: 1/4 cup parmesan cheese)
For the vegan parmesan
4 tablespoons vegetarian nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, crumbled

To prepare the roasted chanterelles, you'll need a large roasting pan, at least 9 by 13 inches.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cover the bottom of the roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of buttery spread.
Add the chanterelle mushrooms, sliced shallots, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and mix together well.
Roast in the oven for 15 to 17 minutes, stirring once, until they are tender.
Remove from oven and set aside. These can be made earlier in the day.
To make the risotto, you'll need a large 12 inch frying pan with at least 3 inch sides.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium heated pan.
Stir in onions, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and a bit brown (10 to 15 minutes).
While the onions are cooking, heat broth in a small pot and keep warm on a low burner.
Add the arborio rice to the cooked onions (in the large frying pan) and stir continually for 3 minutes or until the rice is opaque.
Add the wine and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until it is absorbed.
Add broth to the rice one cup at a time, stirring continually, until almost absorbed. This takes about 20 to 25 minutes and will take most or all of the 6 cups of hot broth.
When the rice is just tender, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of buttery spread and the roasted chanterelle mushrooms.
Serve risotto immediately in wide, shallow bowls. Top with vegan parmesan to taste.

Risotto Per serving: 414.5 calories, 11 g fat, 2.3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.7 g protein, 65.3 g carbohydrates and 3.3 g dietary fiber.

Vegan Parmesan, per teaspoon: 8.3 calories, 0.2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.3 g protein, 0.8 g carbohydrates and 0.7 g dietary fiber.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Eggless Egg Salad Sandwich - A Delicious, Low Calorie Vegan Lunch

Extra firm sprouted tofu crumbled with a dough blender.

Follow your heart flaxseed and olive oil, reduced fat vegenaise.

Reduced fat vegenaise mixed with turmeric and relish juice.

Crumbled tofu with celery, dill, sweet relish and vegenaise.

Vegan egg salad sandwich on toasted multigrain bread.

What's for Lunch?
Sandwiches can be a challenge for new vegans. Once you take common sandwich ingredients like tuna fish, turkey and cheese off the table, you may feel inclined to head for the fake, overly processed vegan meats and cheeses. I've never been a big fan of these and many of them don't taste very good. Some also are packed with way too much salt.
Nut butters with low sugar jam or hummus with roasted red peppers and other veggies are two good options for lunch. Here's another: egg salad without the eggs!

Takes Minutes to Make
Just crumble the tofu (I like to use a dough blender but you can use a fork or knife or just crumble it with your hands). Mix is a few ingredients like minced celery, dill and sweet pickle relish and stir in a low fat vegenaise mixed with turmeric. Season to taste and you're eggless egg salad is done!
Get creative and add chopped olives, chives or red onion or minced red bell pepper. The combinations are endless. Without the bread, each serving is just a bit over 100 calories!

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Vegan Egg Salad Sandwich
[makes 3 sandwiches]
1/2 package of extra firm tofu * (about 8 ounces)
1 stalk celery, minced (1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
2 tablespoons reduced fat vegenaise **
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon pickle relish juice
1 teaspoon dried dill
sea salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
6 slices multigrain bread, lightly toasted
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
Dijon mustard for the bread (optional)

* I prefer Wildwood Sproutofu made from sprouted soybeans
** I like Follow your heart flaxseed and olive oil reduced fat vegenaise

Dry the extra firm tofu and crumble into a medium bowl using a dough blender, fork or just crumble with your hands.
Add celery and sweet pickle relish and set aside.
In a small bowl or cup, mix together the vegenaise, turmeric and sweet pickle juice.
Add the vegenaise mixture to the crumbled tofu and gently mix until combined.
Mix in dill and salt and pepper to taste.
Lightly toast the bread.
Spread some dijon mustard on three slices of toast, if desired.
Divide the egg salad and spread evenly over the 3 slices and add tomatoes.
Cover with the remaining 3 pieces of toast and serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and put in your lunchbox.

Per sandwich: 263.9 calories, 9.6 g fat, 0.9 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 16.6 g protein, 31.7 g carbohydrates and 5.9 g dietary fiber.

Without the bread, 3 servings: 114.9 calories, 7.6 g fat, 0.9 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 7.9 g protein, 5.4 g carbohydrates and 1.2 g dietary fiber.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Have You Ever Tried Bolanis? A Wonderful Discovery While Shopping At Whole Foods. Flatbreads, Spreads And Dips From East & West Gourmet Afghan Food.

These bolanis come in spinach, pumpkin, potato and lentil.

Their sauces are great on the bolanis. All but one is vegan.

Their sweet jalapeno dipping sauce is amazing.

What A Lucky Find!
I stopped off at Whole Foods the other day for a last minute pick up and this nice lady had a big table covered with samples from East & West Gourmet Afghan Food. I generally walk past these sample tables because they are usually covered with things I wouldn't eat. But I was particularly hungry, having skipped lunch for a dental appointment, and hoping for the best. What a bonanza!
First there was a nice selection of vegan bolani. I had never heard of bolani before. It's a stuffed Afghan flatbread (looks like a quesadilla) and these were stuffed with spinach, pumpkin, potato and lentil. One was more delicious than the other. They were also unbelievably low in calories and fat.
But you don't just eat the bolanis by themselves. You cover them with their amazing spreads. The vegan flavors included cilantro pesto, sun-dried tomato pesto, lentil curry, eggplant pesto, hummus, sun-dried tomato hummus and basil pesto. The garlic mint spread contained yogurt. The hummus was my favorite but I didn't particularly care for the eggplant pesto.
But you don't just eat the bolanis covered with the amazing spreads! You top them off with their sweet jalapeno dipping sauce. Oh my, what a combination! But there are infinite combinations of their wonderful foods.

I think these will make gorgeous appetizers for my friends and family over the holidays. I also think they will become a popular lunch item in the future when I want to make something fast, simple and, of course, healthful.

Where to Buy
East and West participates in many farmers' markets around the bay area and are now found in Whole Foods and Andronico's. If they are not in your area, you can buy their food by contacting them on their website. I believe they are going to have a regular store front but it seems to be under construction right now.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Low Fat, Vegan Potato Latkes For Hanukkah With A Recipe For Dairy Free, Vegan Sour Cream

Mixture of yukon gold and sweet potatoes.

Potato latkes on a large, non-stick grill.

Don't You Have To Fry Latkes?
OK, you figured it out. I'm not Jewish. You're probably saying, "doesn't this shiksa realize it's the OIL that's traditional Hanukkah food, NOT the potatoes?" I do know that (after all, I was born in Israel Zion hospital in Borough Park, Brooklyn!) but for those of you who just feasted over the Thanksgiving holiday and are now watching your waistline, I will give you the option of making these tasty, low calorie latkes with less oil and with a vegan sour cream that only weighs in at 8 calories per tablespoon! And yes, they are cooked in a small amount of oil to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah - where one night's worth of oil lasted 8 nights!

This Recipe
I do a few things that aren't traditional. I've sliced and sautéed the onions instead of grating them with the potatoes and mixing them in raw. Grating makes the onions turn to water and gives the latkes a slightly bitter taste. I love the sweetness of onion once it's sautéed. I also use a mixture of Yukon gold and sweet potatoes instead of the traditional russet potato. I throw in some nutritional yeast with the flour for added nutritional benefits.

Compare to Full Fat Sour Cream
I love sour cream. I can eat it with a spoon. But full fat, dairy sour cream has 27.8 calories (vs. 8.3 calories in vegan sour cream), 2.8 g of fat (vs. 0.3 g), 1.6 g of saturated fat (vs. 0 g), and 7.5 g of cholesterol (vs. 0). I now have something that I can freely pour over my latkes or baked potatoes without the guilt!

Also, check out other Healthful Hanukkah recipes like Raw Vegan Walnut and Mushroom Pâté which makes a great substitute for chopped chicken liver. For dessert, try making Raw Chocolate Almond Macaroons. For a complete raw vegan feast, check out my Raw Vegan Hanukkah menu.
Happy Hanukkah!

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Vegan Yukon Gold and Sweet Potato Latkes
[makes about 2 dozen latkes]
2 tablespoons ground golden flaxseeds
6 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cups peeled and grated sweet potatoes
4 cups un-peeled and grated Yukon gold potatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (or to taste)
2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons vegetarian support formula nutritional yeast
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided, for frying

You'll need a large, non-stick griddle or frying pan.
Make 2 flax eggs by blending the ground flaxseeds with water. For a really gooey egg, blend it with a high speed blender but you can also do this by hand. Set aside.
Sauté onion in a teaspoon of olive oil until barely soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine onion with grated sweet and Yukon gold potatoes, salt, pepper, flour, nutritional yeast and flax eggs. Mix well.
Heat griddle (medium heat) and coat with a bit of olive oil for each batch.
Place one quarter cup of mixture on the griddle for each latke, flattening them with a spatula.
Cook for 3 minutes on each side being careful not to burn them. You may have to flip them more than once to cook them thoroughly and keep them from browning too much.
Serve immediately or keep in a warm oven. Serve with applesauce or vegan sour cream.

Per latke (24 per recipe): 34.5 calories, 0.9 g fat, 0.1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1.2 g protein, 6.4 g carbohydrates and 1.1 g dietary fiber.


Vegan Sour Cream
[makes 2 cups or 32 tablespoons]
1 pound soft or silken tofu
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons light agave nectar

Drain off excess liquid from the tofu.
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth but do not over process or it will get watery.
Refrigerate until needed. It will last about 4 days.

Per tablespoon: 8.3 calories, 0.3 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.6 g protein, 0.5 g carbohydrates and 0 g dietary fiber.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Vitamin D - Do The New Recommendations Fall Short? What Vegans Need To Know About Vitamin D.

IOM Triples Recommended Vitamin D Intake
In 1997, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) set the adequate intake level of vitamin D at 200 IUs for people less than 50, 400 IUs for those 50 to 70 and 600 IUs for people over 70. The new recommendations call for 600 IUs daily for everyone, including children, up to adults age 70 and 800 IUs for those over 71.
Although this triples the amount recommended for younger people, many health professionals feel that this new level still missed the mark.

What is Vitamin D and Where does it come from? Is it Vegan?
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. There are two forms.
* Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is made by converting a sterol found in plants and yeast. Since it is plant based, it is considered vegan. Mushrooms, when exposed to sunlight, are another source of this important vitamin.
* Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is produced by the skin when exposed to the sun. It is also found in animal products and some fatty fish. Vitamin D3 supplements are made from lanolin from the wool of sheep and are not considered vegan.
* 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the hormonally active form of vitamin D that the body makes from Vitamin D2 and D3. When you test your blood levels for vitamin D, they are testing for 25-hydroxyvitamin D.

Is D3 Better then D2?
Several early studies showed that vitamin D3 was more effective in raising the serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D when taken in very high doses. In a more recent study by Holick, it was found that both forms are equally effective, when taken in more typical doses of 1,000 IU per day, in increasing and maintaining serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. This is good news for vegans who prefer the plant based vitamin D2.

But I'm a Sun Loving Vegan, Isn't that Enough?
I too love getting as many nutrients from nature as possible. But trying to determine the amount of sunlight one can safely take to provide adequate vitamin D levels is difficult. Reading some of these descriptions is almost comical so I'll defer to other sources to tell you how much, what longitude and latitude, time of day, time of the year, color of your skin, how much suntan lotion you're wearing, etc.. I'm getting exhausted just listing these! This vitamin is critical to so many things, why not just supplement?

Why is Vitamin D Important?
Vitamin D has long been associated with bone health since it regulates how body absorbs calcium and phosphorus. Recent studies have linked low vitamin D levels to:
* Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
* Higher incidence and severity of depression
* Higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women
* Increased risk of prostate, breast and colon cancers
* Severe asthma in children
* Cognitive impairment in older adults.
Research also has shown that vitamin D shows promise in preventing and treating:
* Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
* Multiple Sclerosis
* High blood pressure
* Significant reduction in the incidence of seasonal influenza.
* Parkinson disease

Did the IOM Fall Short?
OK, I must give credit that the IOM actually raised the bar but many experts do not feel that they raised it enough and I agree. Much of the controversy centers around the optimal blood level of vitamin D. Vitamin D advocates, such as the International Osteoporosis Foundation, feel that 30 ng/ml is the optimal level. Some experts feel that this level should even be higher than that. Life Extensions recommends levels as high as 50 ng/ml. But the IOM panel dismissed these recommendations and concluded that for 97% of the population, 20 ng/ml of vitamin D is sufficient.

Who is at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency
Some people have a much higher risk of vitamin D deficiency. These include:
* Those with osteoporosis
* People over age 50
* People with dark skin who have reduced capability of converting the sun's rays to vitamin D
* Obese people
* People on certain medications like prednisone and anti-seizure drugs like Dilantin
* People with fat malabsorption as is associated with those with Crohn's, celiac and other diseases
* People who work indoors and avoid the sun

Can you get Too Much?
Since vitamin D is fat soluble, the body stores it. Taking excessive amounts can potentially result in hypercalcemia, or too much calcium in the blood. Hypercalcemia symptoms include:
* Loss of appetite
* Constipation
* Confusion
* Weakness
The IOM panel increased the acceptable upper limit of daily intake of vitamin D from 2,000 IU to 4,000 IU from supplements and food sources.

What Should I Do?
If you are a RAW FOOD VEGAN who doesn't supplement, you have a high chance of being vitamin D deficient since there are NO ADEQUATE plant sources of vitamin D. Of course it you work shirtless in a field all day and you are light skinned and close enough to the equator, this may not be a problem. (But your chances of skin cancer exceed you likelihood of vitamin D deficiency!)
Vegans in general may also be vitamin D deficient since they don't eat fatty fish and may avoid foods fortified with vitamin D3.
Here's what my husband and I do:
* We asked our doctor to test our blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
* Doug and I want our levels to be over 40 ng/ml based on what we've read but ask your doctor what he or she recommends. Hopefully the answer will be at least 30 ng/ml. If it's 20 ng/ml, find another doctor.
* Our intake is at least 2,000 IU per day. Nature's Life makes a 2,000 IU vitamin D2 supplement in a vegetarian capsule.
* Be sure to include amounts found in fortified foods like soy milk. Hats off to Silk for supplementing their soy milk with vegan D2 !

Mushrooms, an Interesting Development
It turns out that mushrooms can convert the sun's rays into vitamin D too! In fact, the USDA has been working with the Monterey Mushroom company to grow a mushroom with increased levels of vitamin D. By exposing the mushrooms to UV light, the mushrooms create a stable amount of the nutrient which is maintained even after cooking or freezing! I actually bought some this weekend so they are now on the shelves!

Don't Forget the Kids
A study in Japan found that giving 1,200 IU per day to school age children from December through March cut down the incidence of seasonal flu by 42% so don't forget the kids this winter!

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Spicy Vegan Shepherd's Pie - A Quick And Easy Way To Use Up Leftover Mashed Potatoes!

Leftover mashed potatoes on spicy beans, corn and peppers.

What to do with Leftovers
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! If you did the cooking, like I did, you are probably looking at a bunch of leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes and other food - except pie. I bet that's all gone!
Here's a very quick and easy dish to make from your left over Creamy Vegan Mashed Potatoes.
Classic Shepherd's pie has ground beef or lamb. Vegetarian Shepherd's pie recipes usually replace the meat with mushrooms, lentils or other beans. I made a quick bean chili for the base and the spicy flavor goes well with the creamy mashed potatoes. I like making this dish in 4 small, individual casserole dishes.

Low in Calories and High in Fiber
After eating way too much on Thanksgiving, I'm definitely watching every calorie that goes into my mouth today. Christmas and New Year's are coming soon so it's a good time to lose a few pounds before another holiday. For those of you celebrating Hanukkah, I'm afraid you don't have much time to shed the Thanksgiving weight since it begins in just a few days!
This recipe is very filling and it's less than 300 calories per serving. It has less than a gram of saturated fat, provides nearly 19 grams of protein and over 11 grams of dietary fiber!

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Spicy Vegan Shepherd's Pie
[makes 4 individual servings]
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup onions, chopped
1/2 cup bell green or red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced and chopped
One 15 ounce can corn kernels, drained
One 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
One 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chili powder
4 servings leftover mashed potatoes (about 3 cups)
Some chopped parsley for garnish

Take out 4 small, individual baking dishes.
Place rack close to broiler and turn oven to broil.
In a Dutch oven, sauté the onion and peppers in olive oil until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for another minute. Add corn, tomatoes, pinto beans, and chili powder and cook until bubbly and most liquid is absorbed.
While cooking bean mixture, warm up mashed potatoes.
Put hot bean mixture in individual baking dishes and cover with a layer of mashed potatoes.
Put baking dishes under the broiler for a few minutes until slightly brown.
Garnish with parsley and serve.

Per serving: 275.4 calories, 5.0 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 18.7 g protein, 35.1 g carbohydrates and 11.3 g dietary fiber.

Monday, November 22, 2010

When Meat-Eaters And Vegetarians Share Thanksgiving

The Vegetarian at the Thanksgiving Table
The other day CNN had a lunchtime poll – “The Vegetarian at the Thanksgiving Table”. Their question was: “Should a meat-eating Thanksgiving host be expected to accommodate a vegetarian guest?” This provocative question certainly stirred up a lot of strong opinions and emotions.
* Forty three percent stated that if they invited a vegetarian to Thanksgiving dinner, they would put a lot of effort into their dishes. But some weren’t that gracious.
* A little less than a third of the respondents said if they were given fair warning, they would make one or two things they can eat. (How terribly generous of them!)
* About 8% (1,234 people) said they wouldn’t make anything special, but they’re free to bring their own food.
* Three percent (502 people) said, “You come to my house and you eat what I serve you. It’s rude not to. Just pick the meat out”.
* Nearly 2% (260 people) actually stated, “vegetarians aren’t welcome in my house”.
* The hostility came from both sides with approximately the same amount (252 votes) claiming, “meat-eaters aren’t welcome at my table”.
* But some kindness prevailed as 138 people said, “if they won’t eat meat, I won’t even allow it on the table. We’ll all be vegetarians today”. But that was from less than 1% of the participants.

Would People with Other Food Restrictions Face Such Scrutiny?
I wonder where all this hostility is coming from? It’s Thanksgiving! A day when we all should be loving and thankful? If someone couldn’t eat the oyster stuffing because they had a seafood allergy, I don’t think they would meet such opposition. But there are two sides to every story. Let’s try to understand each one.

The Vegan Guest's Point of View
From the vegetarian or vegan point of view, Thanksgiving can be the most uncomfortable day of the year. After all, it’s a holiday where one of the main events is cooking a poor bird that, from their view, has spent its entire miserable life waiting to be killed, stuffed and eaten on Thanksgiving. This is especially uncomfortable for the vegan who has chosen this lifestyle for reasons of compassion. For those who eschew meat for environmental reasons, not to contribute to the harmful effects that industrial farming is having on the planet, watching this ritual can be equally distasteful. The “vegan for health” may be the least offended as their avoidance of animal products may not be as deeply rooted in their beliefs.

The Meat Eater's Point of View
From the meat-eating hosts’ viewpoint, this is a significant occasion and the site and smell of the turkey roasting in the oven brings back wonderful memories of past holidays. It may have taken them years to perfect grandma’s sausage stuffing and there’s no way they are going to make something different. And making mashed potatoes, or any vegetable for that matter, without butter is just unthinkable. Don’t even mention that the sugar in the cranberry sauce may have been filtered through bone char and would also be off limits to their vegan guests – that might push them completely over the edge!

The Family Dynamics
What makes this situation an order of magnitude more sensitive is when family is involved. A mother thinking, “where did I go wrong? Why did my child adopt such freakish eating habits?” Or “why does she have to be such a pain in the ass on such an important holiday?” (At least that’s what my mother would have said!) The child feeling so disappointed that her parents not only won’t empathize with her cause but chastises her for taking it on. Perhaps she was wishing that the entire family would share a compassionate, meat free holiday together. What was she thinking?

Remember, It's a Joyous Occasion
At the end of the day, Thanksgiving should be a joyous holiday to be happily spent with friends and family, not a day to argue about religion, politics or whether or not to be a vegetarian. A meat-eating host should make an effort to have ample dishes for their vegetarian guests to eat and encourage them to bring a dish to share. A vegan host must also be open minded enough to allow someone to bring a turkey for those who want to eat it. You can mail them a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer’s, “Eating Animals” or T. Colin Campbell’s, “The China Study” next week - after the holiday. Most importantly, everyone has to respect each other’s lifestyle.

So for you vegans out there who will share a table with meat eaters next Thursday, do the best you can. Try and catch a vegan potluck later in the day where you can actually get something to eat and share your Thanksgiving stories with your like minded friends.
For those of you who must have your turkey on Thanksgiving, at least take a moment and thank the little guy for making the ultimate sacrifice for you on this holiday.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Healthy Vegan Thanksgiving Menu And Recipes For 2010

Countdown to Thanksgiving!
Well, here it is - this year's complete Thanksgiving menu! And just in time as there's only one week left until the big day. I hope you enjoy it - I think I've gained a few pounds creating and testing all of these recipes but it was for a good cause. Now, vegan or not, you can create healthful holiday dishes for you and your family.
This year's menu has the look, feel and taste of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

For starters, serve Sweet and Spicy Kalamata Olive and Artichoke Tapenade. With all the cooking you have to do on Thanksgiving, you can make this quick and simple appetizer the day before so it's ready to go as soon as your guests arrive. Serve with crackers or a sliced baguette.

Main Course
* Stuffing:
One or two days before Thanksgiving, make your cornbread, leaving enough time for you to make cubes and dry them out for a Healthy Vegan Cornbread And Cornbread Stuffing. For an alternative "main attraction" dish, this can be used to stuff a sugar pumpkin or acorn squash.
* Green Veggie:
Last year's Garden Fresh Green Beans may be a safer choice as some guests may not be big Brussels Sprouts fans, but this Raw Vegan Brussels Sprouts Salad with Orange Chia Seed Vinaigrette, Dried Cranberries and Almonds won't disappoint. The orange vinaigrette can be made ahead of time.
* Cranberry Sauce:
Here's a choice of Two Different Cranberry Sauces: Raw Cranberry Relish, a simple combination of fresh cranberries and Medjool dates, or Low Sugar Cranberry Sauce sweetened with apple juice, a small amount of organic cane sugar and stevia. Both can be made the day before.
* The Main Attraction:
For that "meat and potatoes" part of the meal, we're serving Vegan Sliced Turkey, Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy. The turkey is made from Butler Farms' Soy Curls, a minimally processed soy product and it really has the look, feel and taste of poultry. For the best flavor, make these right before serving. The mashed potatoes are light and delicious, made from Yukon golds whipped together with silken tofu. The gravy has plenty of mushrooms in veggie broth easily thickened with cornstarch. You can make this ahead of time also.

Save Room for Dessert
I went a little cranberry crazy this year but I won't apologize. This Orange Cranberry Pecan Upside Down Cake is not only delicious, but it makes a beautiful presentation and is less than 200 calories a slice.

For More Raw and Cooked Vegan Thanksgiving Ideas
If you want more recipes to choose from, check out 2009's Healthy Vegan Thanksgiving Menu and Recipes featuring 8 recipes from an antipasto appetizer to our popular sweet potato casserole and two wonderful desserts.
If you want a "raw" experience, check out A Complete Raw Vegan Thanksgiving Menu. From pesto stuffed mushrooms and sprouted garbanzo hummus appetizers to a raw pear and apple crisp, these 8 recipes are sure to satisfy all your guests.

Vegan Thanksgiving Potlucks- Why take the chance?
There are vegan Thanksgiving potlucks all over the country. It's a place vegans gather after having spent their first Thanksgiving dinner, earlier in the day, with their families picking at the cranberry sauce and vegetable crudité. This will be a place to gather where everything on the menu is edible. Call me a control freak, (I am), but why take the chance that everyone will show up with pumpkin pie and no one will show up with appetizers? Why not print out these Thanksgiving recipes and assign them to different people so that you end up with a well coordinated meal?

Most of All
I want to wish everyone of my readers a happy and healthful Thanksgiving!
I've only been blogging for a little less than two years now and because of you, the site has exceeded 80 thousand hits and 150 thousand page views! You inspire me every day to create simple, healthful and delicious recipes.
My site originated as one with healthful recipes and nutritional information. Although mostly plant based, these included a modest number of recipes with eggs, some dairy and seafood, etc. But four months ago I changed the site to focus exclusively on vegan nutrition and recipes due to my concern for health, food safety, and my profound commitment to the environment and the welfare of helpless farm animals. Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, omnivore or just on a journey to a healthier lifestyle, I hope you continue to join me each week as I discover and create recipes with Foods For Long Life!

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