Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Raw "Cleanse" Day

I feel like I've been eating too many carbs and fatty foods and haven't been getting enough fresh fruit and vegetables lately with the stress from finals and all (I'm finally done and found out my grades! I did better than I thought, so that's a huge relief), so I decided on Monday that I would try my best to eat just fresh fruits and veggies for the day. I then figured I might as well make it a raw day, but try not include any nut based dishes since I eat enough nuts as it is.

I had ordered some kelp noodles from Amazon last week (need to up the iodine for medical reasons) and received a small free packet of chia seeds along with it, but I sorta forgot about it until Monday so I decided to use it in my breakfast. As light as this was, my breakfast left me satisfied without feeling weighed down- it was great! I just blended some frozen sliced peaches that I thawed overnight, a super ripe and juicy mango, and a peeled orange in my blender. I then mixed in the chia seeds, let the mixture sit for about 15 min, and topped it with sliced strawberries. This was so delicious thanks to the super sweet fruit that I used and I couldn't stop myself from spooning it into my mouth.

Lunch was inspired by this post on Another One Bites the Crust and it was by far my favorite meal all day. I love spring rolls, so the idea of making them with sliced cucumber as the wrapper appealed to me immediately. I filled mine with buttery avocado slices, grated carrot, sliced scallions, and shredded romaine lettuce. I then topped them with some black sesame seeds and dipped them in a simple sauce made from Bragg Liquid Aminos and red pepper flakes. I also snacked on a sliced apple sprinkled with cinnamon. This is one of those meals where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I knew that the rolls would taste good, but I was just blown away by the flavor of them! They tasted like the freshest veggie sushi ever and could not have been easier. I'm actually running to the store tomorrow to get the ingredients to make more of these rolls :)

Dinner was...not so great. I've never had gazpacho before, but the idea of it always appealed to me so I decided to try it. I didn't follow a specific recipe, but more of a blend of several. The flavor was pretty good, but after a few bites the texture became very unappealing to me and I ended up eating a bowl of fruit topped with ground flax seeds and half a Larabar. I think I might have had the proportions of veggies wrong because I feel like there was too much onion and cucumber. I won't give up on gazpacho just yet, but it'll be awhile before I try making it again.

Dessert was some homemade pineaple mango sorbet with a secret ingredient- fresh coconut milk! I felt like adding another layer of flavor to this sorbet in the form of coconut milk, but since canned was out of the question, I bought a young Thai coconut, cracked it open (I used the method show in this video), blended the meat and water, and strained it to make fresh coconut milk! While I've never been a fan of things with a strong coconut taste, I learned that fresh coconut is a totally different story. I'm now in LOVE with fresh coconut meat and want to go buy another one just to eat for breakfast! The flavor is not traditionally "coconutty," but just floral and tropical- it reminded me and my mom of the Bahamas. To make the sorbet, I just blended the coconut milk with 3-4 cups of chopped fruit and some raw agave nectar in the blender, chilled it, and churned it in my ice cream machine. The coconut milk didn't make the sorbet as creamy as I would have hoped, but it gave it such a great tropical aftertaste and I'm so glad I used it.

Overall, my raw "cleanse" day was a success and a great way to introduce myself to raw foods because I definitelty want to include more raw meals in my diet throughout the summer. I think I'll continue to do one day every month or so of completely raw foods that aren't nut-based because I felt great the next day. The only problem seemed to be that I didn't eat enough early in the day, so by about 3:00 I was craving carbs like crazy and felt really tired (I acually took a brief nap, which I rarely do), so I'll keep that in mind next time. I can't wait to try more raw recipes and I hope to eat at least one raw meal every week.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Swirlz- My Life Saver

After seeing Vegan Nurse's post about a cupcake from Swirlz she found at Whole Foods, I was intrigued immediately. While there are several places in my area where I can get vegan baked goods and gluten-free baked goods, I have yet to find somewhere where I can find a cake that is gluten-free AND vegan. That is, until now. I asked my dad (since he works in the city) if he had ever heard of Swirlz and it turns out that it's only two blocks from where he works and he runs right by it everyday, so I just mentioned to him that they have vegan, gluten-free cupcakes (one flavor each day) and that I might drive down there sometime during the summer. Well, fast-froward to the next day when I came home from school. I walked into my dad's office, said "hello," and began heading toward the kitchen to put my backpack away, when my dad told me that he had a surprise for me in the kitchen. I looked in and saw on the counter....

...a gluten-free, vegan double chocolate chip cupcake form Swirlz! Actually, he got me two and I ate both of them that night :) The cake itself was pretty good, a little dry, but it had a nice chocolate flavor. The real star here was the fudgey frosting. OH MY GOODNESS! This is the kind of frosting I've been missing and have yet to be able to make since going vegan. It's fudgey, chocolatey, and creamy- yum! The size of the cupcake was also really nice- a little bit bigger than the ones I make at home but not so big that the frosting to cake ratio is thrown off. My dad also brought home a box with two of the (nonvegan) gluten-free cupcakes for my mom and some of the "regular" cupcakes for the rest of my family and everyone loved them, so I think I'll be able to enjoy my cupcakes a little more often :)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Asian Flavor

I'm not sure why, but I've seemed to be craving Asian dishes for the past few weeks, which is fine by me because it means I've been eating tons of fresh veggies! Even though the weather here hasn't been great lately, we have had a few summery days and I decided to take them as an opportunity to make some refreshing SUSHI! I used to practically live off of sushi in my pre-veg*n days, but now that I've finally learned how to make my own vegan sushi, I plan on eating it all the time this summer! This time around, I used brown rice and finally conquered the inside-out roll (rice on the outside) and it surprisingly wasn't anymore difficult to make than regular sushi. I made two different rolls last week, as you see above, and I was really happy with these flavor combinations. The roll in the front contained just some simple sliced avocado (makes everything 10x better) and carrots and the one in back had some cucumber and roasted sweet potato and both rolls were fantastic (even though I think I preferred the one with avocado just because it's so darn creamy).

This dish came out of my need to use up some cabbage in the fridge and it ended up being so great that I've made it at least 3 times in the past month! For the tofu, I marinaded it in a mix of wheat-free tamari, sesame oil, and five-spice and let it sit for a few hours before pan-frying it in a little bit of oil. As good as the tofu was, the cabbage stir fry was the real star on this plate and it couldn't have been easier, so I decided to post the (approximate) recipe:

Cabbage Stir-Fry:

1 large head cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1-2 scallions, chopped
2 T. oil
2 t. agave nectar
1/4 c. tamari (or other soy sauce)
1 1/2 T. sesame oil
2 T. rice vinegar

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Sautee bell pepper and carrot for 1-2 min. Add cabbage and scallions and sautee another 4 min, or just until cabbage softens slightly. Add the other ingredients and cook for about 1 more min. and serve immediately. Serves 4-6 (depending on how much you love your veggies)

I've actually made this dish a few times before, but never got around to posting about it until now for some reason. The Cashew Ginger Tofu from ED&BV is so easy and the cashew sauce after it thickens in the oven is amazing! I used tempeh this time instead of tofu since it's all I had on hand, but it's just as good with tempeh (if not better) because it absorbs the sauce beautifully. I served this dish with some steamed cauliflower and asparagus that I sauteed in some soy sauce and sesame oil (my mom's recipe- it's great!).

Finals start Tuesday and by the end of the week my summer vacation will have officially begun!! One great perk of summer is more time to cook/bake new things and more time to share them all with you!