Archive for May, 2012
It’s one thing to eat a plant based diet but it’s another to eat an organic plant based diet. While there are plenty of restaurants in the San Diego and LA areas that are plant based, there are only 2 (that my extensive google search has turned up) that are plant based AND organic. Two weeks ago my husband and I drove up to LA to try out the second restaurant on our list – Shojin. After checking out their menu online I was already in love with them. The first thing you see when you open up their menu is a cute little intro about their views and food style.
Our first trip to Shojin was for my birthday. My husband and I left the kids at home and enjoyed a much needed date ‘day’ with each other. We were starving by the time we arrived and ordered as many things as we could off the menu. My husband tried the Stuffed Shiitake Mushrooms (which he proclaimed as the best appetizer he’s ever had), Gyoza (which we split and was fabulous) and Orange “Chicken” Seitan (apparently I need to make this at home). I ordered the Yuzu Ponzu Seitan, Pirates of the Crunchy (best tasting thing I have ever put in my mouth!) and the Yellow Magic Orchestra (unbelievable!). Our food arrived VERY quickly and in between bites you could hear us murmuring “OMG”, “So yummy”, “Best food ever”, “Can’t stop eating”. It’s been years since we’ve been able to order ANYTHING we want off a restaurant menu and know that it’s healthy and good for us. We were so impressed by our meal that we ordered a bunch of items for take away so we could enjoy them again later that night.
We were so blown away by our experience at Shojin that the very next week we headed back up to LA – this time with the kids. While at first glance their menu doesn’t scream “kid friendly” they are actually really accommodating and there are plenty of things to choose from that are great for kids – also, chopsticks and kids = fun times.
Both Keegan and Caleb tried the Gyoza and loved it. For lunch they had the brown rice noodle bowl with a sweet soy sauce dressing.
My husband had the Gyoza again – they really are so delicious. The flavors are amazing.
For his main course he tried the Grilled Portobello Steak. I’m not a fan of mushrooms but I had the asparagus that came with it and the seasoning from the portobello was fantastic. If we weren’t in public I’m pretty sure he would have licked the plate!
All week I had been looking forward to one thing – Pirates of the Crunchy. Weird name but the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my life. I could happily eat it everyday for every meal.
It’s hard to even look at the picture and not get in my car for a late night drive to LA. I wish I knew how to cook with tempura cause I would be making this dish everyday at home!
I decided to try a new ‘sushi’ this time and had the Caterpillar Rolls. I loved how they made the avocado on top look like fish. It was so cute I almost couldn’t eat it – I did say almost!
Shojin does have an amazing dessert menu and if you can manage to save room I highly recommend you give it a try. I haven’t actually managed to do that myself but my husband and kids tell me the desserts are out of this world delicious.
If the amazing food, gorgeous ambiance and fun selection of organic wine, beer and sake isn’t enough to tempt you then the friendly and helpful staff will be. They are great at answering any questions you have about the menu and will work with any food allergy or restriction you have.
Needless to say this is my favorite restaurant and I can’t wait to go back as much as possible. Road trip to LA anyone???
Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays – it’s second only to Halloween. I love the super long weekend and I take full advantage of that extra day. Grilling, afternoons at the beach and of course sitting outside enjoying a cool and refreshing drink in the evening. With Memorial Day being the unofficial start of summer, there is nothing more summer like than watermelon. My whole family loved this sweet, fizzy drink. We went the non-alcoholic route but this would have been delicious with some sparkling white wine. The perfect drink to kick off the summer season. Enjoy!
- 2 cups diced watermelon
- 1 cup strawberries, tops removed
- 1 cup diced pineapple
- 16 ounces sparkling water (for an adult option sub with sparkling white wine)
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
- Add the fruit to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. You can play around with the flavor here and make it sweeter by adding more pineapple or give it a bit more strawberry flavor by adding additional strawberries.
- Add the lemon juice and pulse once more to combine.
- At this point you can pour the juice through a strainer or leave it as is for a thicker consistency. We preferred the thicker consistency.
- Pour the juice into 4 glass cups and top with the sparkling water or wine. Pour slowly, the sparkling water will fizz when you pour it.
- Garnish with a slice of watermelon if desired and enjoy!
Makes 4 servings.
Serving size 1 drink.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 55, Cal. from Fat: 2.5, Total Fat: 0g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 13.5g, Fiber: 1.5g, Sugars: 10g, Protein: 1g, Sodium: 1.5mg, Chol: 0mg
Once the sparkling water is added to the fruit juice it will start to lose it’s fizz over time. It’s best to keep the fruit juice and sparkling water separate until ready to serve. The juice will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Memorial Day is a day to remember and to celebrate our hero’s and to say thank you to all the military personnel who served our country. Living near Camp Pendleton, every day I am reminded of the service our military personal provide to all of us. So, thank you to those who served in the past and those who are currently serving.
Memorial Day weekend is also a time for families and friends to get together and enjoy the start of the summer with picnics and grilling on the patio. What’s a picnic or BBQ without hotdogs though? Did you know that according to the Hot Dog & Sausage Council, from Memorial Day to Labor Day Americans usually consume 7 billion hot dogs? That’s a lot of fillers, chemicals and other unhealthy ingredients. Yuck. Happily we can all still have our dogs without all the unhealthy ingredients with these Chili Dog Sausages. They are really easy to make and can be used in lots of different ways beyond the standard bun.
- 1/2 cup cooked beans (I like a soft bean like cannellini, navy or great northern), mashed
- 1/2 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed
- 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup Sweet Heat Chili Sauce or your favorite chili sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 cups vital wheat gluten
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- Get the water boiling in your steamer while you prepare the sausage mixture.
- Prepare aluminum foil for wrapping the sausages by cutting 14 sheets approximately 6 x 8 inches.
- In a large bowl combine the beans, sweet potato, broth, chili sauce, garlic, 2 tbsp oil, oregano, cumin and salt. Mix to combine.
- Stir in the vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast. Stir to combine. The mixture should be like a sticky pizza dough.
- Take a portion of dough a little larger than the size of a golf ball and roll it with your hands into a log about 5-6 inches long.
- Lay it onto a sheet of the foil, roll it up and twist the ends closed. Complete with remaining sausage mixture.
- Place the wrapped sausages into the steamer and steam for 45 minutes. *see notes*
- Remove from the steamer and unwrap.
- In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook about 8-10 minutes, turning the sausages to brown all over.
- Serve in a bun, tortilla, or as is topped with your favorite condiments.
Makes 14 sausages
Serving size 1 sausage
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 149, Cal. from Fat: 34, Total Fat: 4g, Sat. Fat: .5g, Carbs: 10g, Fiber: 2g, Sugars: 1g, Protein: 8g, Sodium: 157mg, Chol: 0mg
Store leftovers in an airtight container or zip baggie in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.
Sausages can be chopped up and used in chili, hash, tacos and much more.
If you don’t have a steamer you can make one by using a large pot filled with 2-3 inches of water. Bring to a simmer. Lay a metal (don’t try it with plastic) colander over the top with the sausages inside (you will probably have to work in batches) and cover with the lid. Some steam will escape but it will still work. Check the sausages after 45 minutes to see if they are firm or continue steaming a little longer making sure that the water has not boiled out of the pot. Add more water if necessary.
You can also check the instructions of your crock pot. Some can be used for steaming.
These can also be reheated on the grill. Simply wrap in foil and grill until heated all the way through.
It’s funny, not ha-ha funny but interesting funny, that I don’t care for cucumbers but I love pickles. There’s something about that briny sour flavor that changes them in a good way. Now I love green beans any which way so it’s only natural that pickled green beans would be a favorite of mine too. You won’t need any special equipment for these pickles and they are so easy to make you won’t get in a pickle making them, just eating them.
- Approximately 1 pound fresh green beans
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 fresh dill heads or 1 tsp dill seed
- 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tbsp sea salt or kosher salt
- Cut the green beans to fit into 2 pint size canning jars. Stack the green beans into the jars leaving some room for the pickling liquid.
- Add 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1 dill head and 1 clove garlic into each jar.
- In a medium size sauce pan mix together the vinegar, water and salt.
- Bring to a boil and then pour over the beans up to 1/4 quarter inch of the top of the jar.
- Tighten the lids onto the jars and let cool at room temperature.
- Once cooled place the jars into the refrigerator. Let the green beans “pickle” at least 4 days before eating.
Makes 2 full pint sized jars.
Nutritional Information not available at this time.
Store pickles in the refrigerator. Pickles will keep up to 1 month.
Happy Birthday To Me! Today, I turn 25 for the 8th time. It’s gonna be a great year!!! Cheesecake has always been my cake of choice for my birthday (and just about everything else too). While I may have switched to a plant based diet this last year I have no intention of giving up cheesecake. I’ve been playing around with a couple different cheesecake recipes – plain vanilla (good but needs some work), strawberry (total bust!), peanut butter cup (YUM – recipe coming soon) and chocolate. Now, normally I am a plain cheesecake kinda gal but this chocolate cherry cheesecake just blew me away. I love the subtle hint of cherry and the crust was delicious all by itself! My family and I have been enjoying this all week long and I actually had to hide the last piece behind the lettuce and broccoli so that I could make sure I had a piece left to enjoy today. If they’re nice I might share. Maybe. Probably not. Yeah, not gonna happen!
For the crust:
- 1 3/4 cup raw walnusts
- 12 Medjool dates, pitted
- 3 tbsp raw cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp almond extract
- 2 tbsp raw honey, coconut nectar or maple syrup
For the filling:
- 3 cups raw cashews, soaked for 1-2 hours in water, then drained
- 1/3 cup raw honey or maple syrup
- 8 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tbsp almond extract
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 cup coconut oil, room temperature – not melted!
- 3/4 cup raw cocoa powder
For the optional cherry sauce topping:
- 10 ounce bag of frozen cherries, unsweetened, thawed (I used sweet black cherries but any variety will work)
- 1/4 cup raw honey or coconut nectar, optional (if you are using a sweet cherry you likely won’t need to add any additional sweetener)
- dash of fresh lemon juice
- In a food processor or powerful blender add the ingredients for the crust and process until you have a coarse sand-like consistency.
- Transfer the crust mixture to a 9 inch cake pan. Using the back of a spatula (or your fingers) gently press down until you have an even, thick crust.
- Wipe out your food processor and add the all the ingredients, except the water, and process until you have a thick but smooth texture. Add the water and process until incorporated.
- Pour the filling mixture into your cake pan and use the spatula again to spread an even layer.
- Place the cake in the fridge for 1 hour or until set.
- To make the optional cherry sauce place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.
- To serve, cut into slices and top with optional cherry sauce.
Makes 16 servings.
Serving size 1 slice.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 442, Cal. from Fat: 278, Total Fat: 31g, Sat. Fat: 15g, Carbs: 40.5g, Fiber: 5.5g, Sugars: 29g, Protein: 6.5g, Sodium: 0mg, Chol: 0mg
Leftover cheesecake needs to be kept refrigerated until ready to serve. The cheesecake will keep for up to 1 week.
Yup, I’m still on a pea kick! I just can’t get enough of them right now. This time I bought a bunch of snow peas at the grocery store and decided to whip up this fresh and crisp asian inspired salad. I had this salad as a main dish but it would work great as a side too. It was quick to throw together and so refreshing after a day out in the sun. Perfect for summer!!!
- 1 cup finely julianned snow peas, ends pinched off
- 1 cup shredded red cabbage
- 1/2 cup grated carrot
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, finely minced
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce or tamari (if you follow a gluten free diet make sure to use a gluten free sauce)
- 1 tbsp ume plum vinegar (you can omit if you don’t have any on hand)
- 3 tbsp brown rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp minced ginger or more to your liking
- 1/2 tbsp raw honey or coconut nectar
- sesame seeds to garnish
- In a small bowl mix together the sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegars, ginger and honey. Set aside.
- In a large bowl gently toss together the snow peas, cabbage, carrot, onion and cilantro. Add the dressing and toss one more time to combine.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.
Makes 1 serving as a main dish or 2 servings as a side.
Nutrients based on 1 main dish serving.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 236, Cal. from Fat: 123, Total Fat: 14g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 25g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 17g, Protein: 4g, Sodium: 1459mg, Chol: 0mg
Leftover salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Can you believe a few years ago I hated coconut?! If something had coconut in it I avoided it at all costs. After lots of reading and research on the many, many health benefits of coconut I decided to give it a try – how bad could it really be? I used to hate guacamole and now I love the stuff so I knew there was hope! I picked up a container of coconut oil and the rest was history. Coconut milk, coconut crystals, coconut nectar and shredded coconut all have a permanent place in my pantry. Now, I know some people have reservations about coconut because it’s high in fat and saturated fat but don’t fear – the fats in coconut products are actually very good for you and aren’t the kind that lead to weight gain and health issues. If you want to do a little reading here is a great article about the types of fat in coconut.
While this recipe does contain a few different kinds of coconut products it’s actually got more of a creamy banana taste. There is definitely a hint of coconut but nothing overpowering. Even those that don’t appreciate the taste of coconut like I do will have a hard time saying no!
For the crust:
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup Medjool dates, pitted (about 10 dates)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp raw honey or maple syrup
For the cream topping:
- 1/2 cup natural almond butter
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 1 tbsp almond extract (you can sub with vanilla is you don’t have almond on hand)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 tbsp raw coconut crystals
- 1 large ripe banana
- Use a tiny bit of coconut oil to grease an 8 x 8 inch glass dish. You can also line the dish with parchment paper instead of using coconut oil. Set aside.
- In a food processor or powerful blender process all the ingredients for the crust until you have a wet sand like consistency.
- Transfer the crust mixture into your prepared glass dish and using your fingers or the back of a spatula gently press down until you have a thick even layer.
- Wipe out any remaining crumbs from your food processor and add in the ingredients for the cream topping. Process until smooth.
- Pour the cream topping over the crust and use your spatula to form a smooth even layer.
- Cover with saran wrap and place in the freezer for 8-10 hours or overnight.
- Remove from the freezer and cut into 12 even pieces.
- Let thaw for about 5 minutes before serving and sprinkle with shredded coconut if desired.
Makes 12 servings.
Serving size 1 dessert bite.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 257, Cal. from Fat: 145, Total Fat: 16.5g, Sat. Fat: 5g, Carbs: 26g, Fiber: 5g, Sugars: 18.5g, Protein: 5.5g, Sodium: 6mg, Chol: 0mg
Leftovers can be individually wrapped in saran wrap and stored in the freezer until ready to eat.
Each fall I look forward to apple season, each winter I look forward to Brussel sprouts and every summer I count down the days until peaches and nectarines show up in the supermarket. Last week I spotted the first peaches of the season!!! As a bonus my ‘all day’ morning sickness has subsided and fruit is back on the menu. I tend to like hot things for breakfast and wanted to make something that was just one serving. I took inspiration for this dish from Kristy’s Single Serve Snack Cake and whipped up this cobbler like breakfast treat. It was a super yummy breakfast but would make a delicious dessert too.
For the peach base:
- 2 medium peaches, pitted, cut into slices, skin removed if desired
- 1 tbsp raw coconut crystals
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pick one of the two following toppings.
For a gluten free topping:
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1 tbsp chia seeds or ground flaxseed
- 1/4 cup non dairy milk
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
For a whole wheat topping:
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp raw coconut crystals
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 cup non dairy milk
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Line the bottom of a small oven safe dish (I used a 10 ounce ramekin) with your sliced peaches and evenly sprinkle the tops with cinnamon and coconut crystals.
- Place in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the coconut crystals have caramelized.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the ingredients for the topping of your choice.
- Remove the ramekin from the oven and spoon the topping mixture evenly over the peaches.
- Lower the oven to 375 degrees and return the ramekin to the oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until the topping is hard and starts to crack.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 1 serving.
Nutritional info will vary depending on which topping you choose.
Simply double, triple or quadruple the recipe as needed for additional servings.
Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner and that means the official start of summer. Grilling, picnics, reunions and festivals will fill the days ahead and so will all the delicious foods that are found there. Burgers, potato salad, baked beans, corn and sweet juicy watermelon are some of my favorite summertime foods but it’s always good to add a little change to the menu. Baked BBQ Lentils make a fun switch up to the usual baked beans. You can make them the classic way or dress them up with some colorful additions like red peppers and corn. Whichever way you go they will be delicious.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red pepper, diced (optional)
- 1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen (optional)
- 1 can (14.5 oz) no salt crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 4 tbsp no salt tomato paste
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup raw coconut crystals
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup apple butter
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 cups french green lentils
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In an oven proof dutch oven heat the oil over medium high heat. Place the the onions and garlic ( and red pepper and corn if using) in the pan and sauté 4-5 minutes or until tender.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the lentils. Stir well.
- Add the lentils, stir and cover.
- Place in the oven and bake 2 hours. Uncover and stir. This is usually enough baking time but test the lentils to see if they have reached the desired doneness. If too firm, cover again and bake an additional 30 minutes. Add additional broth if needed before placing back in the oven.
Makes about 8 cups.
Serving size 1 cup.
Nutrients per serving: Calories: 269, Cal. from Fat: 20, Total Fat: 2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Carbs: 46g, Fiber: 16g, Sugars: 15g, Protein: 13g, Sodium: 307mg, Chol: 0mg
Store leftover in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
BBQ lentils make great leftovers. You can eat them on toasted burger buns, add rice and eat in a whole grain tortilla, or add to a green salad.
I’m sure almost everyone has had several different kinds of root vegetable chips. Potato, sweet potato, carrot, beet, parsnip are all standard chip material but have you ever had eggplant chips? Before making these crisps I never though of eggplant as chip material. When I think eggplant I think good… but soft and sometimes mushy. Cut in a nice thin slice eggplant can become as crispy as any other vegetable chip and since it can take on just about any flavor you want to give it you can season it with the spices of your choice for a custom design. Eggplant, it’s not just for Baba Ghanoush anymore.
- 2 small eggplants (the smaller ones are the best since they don’t have as many seeds. Japanese eggplant works well too.)
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 3 tsp dried oregano
- 3 tsp garlic powder
- 1-2 tbsp olive oil
- Slice the eggplant lengthwise as thin as you can, less than an 1/8th inch if you can.
- Place an oven proof cooling rack over a baking sheet (line with foil for easy cleanup if desired) or 2 if needed.
- Place the eggplant strips onto the cooling rack in a single layer.
- Mix together the salt, oregano and garlic powder in a small bowl.
- Sprinkle the mixture evenly over both sides of the eggplant strips.
- Let sit at least 30 minutes. This will help to draw out some of the moisture from the eggplant.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. With an oil mister spray each side of the eggplant with olive oil.
- Place the baking sheet(s) into the oven and bake 10 minutes. Turn the strips over and bake an additional 10 minutes, watching closely the last few minutes as the eggplant will go from nicely browned to burnt very quickly. The eggplant should be completely crisp and browned.
- Serve immediately.
Makes approximately 24-28 crisps.
Serving size 6 crisps.
Nutritional information not available at this time.
Eggplant Crisps are best eaten right away.
You can easily customize the flavor to your own taste by changing the seasonings. Try some Taco Seasoning Mix or a mix of curry powder, cumin, coriander and smoked paprika. Be sure to include salt in whatever seasoning you use as the salt is what draws out the moisture from the eggplant.