Tag Archives: vegan

Seaweed Salad

I love going to sushi restaurants and ordering a bowl of seaweed salad as a side.  It’s so fresh and the salty-sweet flavors meld together so perfectly.  So naturally, as I have a habit of spending $7 on a very small bowl of the stuff, I decided to figure out how to make it on my own, at home.

Seaweed is one of the absolute best things for you to be eating.  It’s got Vitamins A, C and Calcium and Iodine in addition to an enormous number of antioxidants that can help to reduce inflammation (which in turn helps to prevent some chronic diseases).  It also contains a high amount of fiber and is very low in calories.  It’s also pretty delicious, so I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already had it.  I got my seaweed from an Asian supermarket and it was only about $3 for a pound of it dried (this goes a long way, I promise).  So it’s also really inexpensive.

So now I just need to figure out what to do with the seaweed.  These are a few recipes I found that I’m curious to try, but let me know if I’m missing out on a really good one!

Japanese Seaweed Salad from Food 52

Photo from Food52.com

Sesame Seaweed Salad from Weelicious

Photo from Weelicious.com

Seaweed Salad from Epicurious

Photo from Epicurious.com

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My Obsession with Girl Scout Cookies

I started Girl Scouts the second I was eligible to become a Daisy.  I loved attending the weekly Girl Scout meetings, going on camping adventures during the summer, learning camp songs and competing with other girls to see who could get the most badges (news flash: I usually won).  I made it all the way up to a Junior before my family moved to Venezuela, where, shockingly, they don’t have Girl Scouts.

During those 4 years of being a Girl Scout though, I developed an absolutely incurable addiction to Thin Mints and Samoas (although apparently they’re called Caramel De-lites now which I think is really stupid-why change a classic?).  Every year, around this time, when Girl Scout cookies are for sale, I always find a way to track them down and buy a supply of Thin Mints and Samoas to keep me satisfied for a while.  These little boxes of delicious aren’t cheap though at $4 a box, so it’s probably about time that I start figuring out how to make them myself.  Although, to be honest, the money you spend on Girl Scout cookies really does go to good programs that empower young girls and teach them important leadership skills, so it’s almost justifiable to be spending $20 on 5 boxes of cookies.

When I finally found the Girl Scouts this year, in the Harvard T Station (really really hard to say no to those boxes of cookies when you’re coming home after a rough day), I excitedly asked for one box of Thin Mints and one box of Samoas.  When the girl handed them to me, she said “Did you know that Thin Mints are vegan?”  I didn’t know they were, so I told her as such, and she went on to explain the whole line of cookies to me.  Apparently Girl Scouts, in addition to working to remove most of the hydrogenated oils (although I found them in the Samoas-sad day), is also producing gluten-free cookies and vegan cookies.  Good for them!

Since I can’t afford to stock up on a life-time supply of Thin Mints (Samoas are out now that I know about the hydrogenated oils), I’ve pulled together a couple of recipes that you can make at home:

Thin Mints by The Little Epicurean

Homemade Thin Mints by Averie Cooks

Keepin it Kind’s Somer’s Vegan Thin Mints

Do you have a favorite Girl Scout cookie?  Any other good recipes out there for homemade Girl Scouts cookies?

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Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes

I love love love Yotam Ottolenghi.  His cookbooks are amazing and every recipe I’ve ever made is the epitome of perfection.  The pictures also happen to be gorgeous and he always provides a nice background on each recipe.  We made this recipe for the Superbowl party we attended, with some minor adjustments.  It’s incredibly healthy, very simple and should definitely be on your list of dishes to make.  The roasted garlic in this recipe is easily the best part, so I doubled the amount that Ottolenghi called for in his recipe.  Feel free to cut that amount back in half if you aren’t as big of a garlic fan as me :).

What you need:

  • 3 parsnips (1 pound), peeled and cut into sticks
  • 3 large red onions, peeled and cut into eight wedges
  • 2/3 cup of olive oil
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved horizontally
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut in half, and then into six wedges per half
  • 50 grape tomatoes, halved
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 4 T small capers
  • 1/2 T agave syrup
  • 1/2 t Dijon mustard

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Place the onions and the parsnips in a mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup of olive oil, the thyme and rosemary sprigs, the garlic, 1 tsp of salt and black pepper to taste.  Roast for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potatoes to the pan with the onions and parsnips and roast for an additional 40-50 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Stir in the grape tomatoes and roast for an addition 5-10 minutes.
  5. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together 2 T olive oil, the lemon juice, the capers, the agave syrup and the Dijon mustard.  Serve over the vegetables.
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Book Review: Power Foods for the Brain

I think Alzheimer’s or any form of dementia is the scariest disease out there.  My grandmother and step-grandmother both suffered from dementia and the thought of ever getting it terrifies me.  Dementia means forgetting who you are, where you’ve been, who you love and even what you love.  You turn into someone else, and you can’t remember anything, even if the event happened less than a minute prior.

Because of this fear, and because I have a history of dementia in my family, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the causes of dementia and any possible ways to prevent it from seizing hold of me.  I came across Dr. Neil Barnard’s Power Foods for the Brain at the Cambridge Public Library and decided to read it, to see what he has to say about what I can be doing better to prevent the onset of dementia.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Barnard recommends a three-pronged approach to preventing the onset of dementia.  These three steps include eating a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fiber and other nutrients, regular exercise, and brain stimulation through games, social interaction or reading.  These shouldn’t be too ground-breaking to anyone since these are basic tenets of a healthy life.

Where Dr. Barnard does take an innovative approach is in the nutrition section.  He heavily recommends an animal-free diet, including the elimination of fish and dairy as well as the avoidance of any kind of multi-vitamin that contains minerals.  He argues that fish has similar fats to other meats, and while they are high in omega-3 fatty acids, that we can get those fatty acids from plant-based sources.  He also points out the fish are often full of dangerous chemicals such as mercury which can deposit in the brain and could lead to the onset of dementia.  Similarly, minerals in multi-vitamins are often way above the recommended daily allowance, and he says minerals like Aluminium especially could form harmful deposits in the brain.  If you follow his animal-free diet, he recommends to take a vitamin that either only contains B vitamins or contains no minerals to make sure you get B12.

If you’re interested in learning more, I highly recommend checking out his book.  It’s an easy read and the last third or so of the book is a set of menus that follow his recommended nutrition plan.

Let me know if you’ve read this book or if you’ve been reading any other great books on health and nutrition that you think I should check out!

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Toasted Garbanzo Bean and Tofu Middle Eastern Salad

Chickpea SaladI don’t know about you, but since it’s been freezing, all I’ve been eating has been warm, filling and often heavy food. To break out of that rut, I decided to make this salad last night since it’s still warm, filling but on the lighter side and is sort of a reminder that eventually winter will go away and it will be warm again :).

This recipe is adapted from one I found in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, which, if you’ve never checked out, I definitely recommend you do.  It has so many creative and original recipes and is making me want to hop on a plane to Jerusalem as soon as possible.

Here’s what you need:

  • Block of tofu, pressed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large cucumbers (preferably the smaller, Middle Eastern kind)
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 5 T chopped parsley
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 T ground cardamom
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 5 T of olive oil, plus more for toasting beans
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Begin by combining the sesame oil, rice vinegar and soy sauce in a small bowl.  Add in the tofu and stir until coated.  Place on a baking sheet and roast in the over at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until tofu is golden on the outside.  Remove from oven.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, parsley and cilantro in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the garbanzo beans with the cardamom and cumin until coated.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat 1 T olive oil in a medium sized pan.  Add the garbanzo beans and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each size or until warmed through.  Keep warm.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, zest and garlic.  Pour the dressing over the tomato, cucumber and carrot mixture and toss lightly.
  6. Serve by spreading a layer of the tomato, carrot salad and top with tofu and beans.  If desired, you can put a dollop of Greek yogurt on top.
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Roasted Cauliflower, Kale and Sweet Potato Salad

Sweet Potato, Cauliflower, Kale Salad

It’s a brand new year, and I’m officially starting school to get my Dietetics certification in less than 2 weeks.  I’ve spent the last month or so getting ready to move up to Cambridge, and after a few painful days of packing, driving up the East Coast and unpacking, I’m finally settled in and cooking again.

For the new year, and the resolve to detox just a little after the insanity that was the holidays, I made up this easy, super healthy, vegan salad that can be made ahead, stored in the refrigerator and then warmed up when you’re ready.  The tahini dressing that goes with this salad can also be used for other salads or as a marinade for fish, so feel free to get creative with it.

What you need for the salad:

  • 1 cup of dry farro
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T cayenne powder
  • 1/2 T paprika

What you do:

  1. Start by soaking the farro for 6 hours or overnight.  This will greatly reduce the actual cooking time. When ready, bring farro to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until cooked through.  It will have a slightly nutty texture to it.
  2. Lightly coat the sweet potatoes and cauliflower in the olive oil, cayenne and the paprika.  Roast at 450 degrees for 30 minutes or until soft.  Remove from oven.
  3. For the kale, you should lightly saute a pan with olive oil, and then cook the kale down until just barely wilted.  Add in the sweet potatoes, cauliflower and toasted pumpkin seeds.
  4. When the farro is finished, stir the farro into the vegetable mixture and top with the tahini dressing mixture (directions below).

What you need for the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup of tahini
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • salt, pepper and paprika to taste
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 T olive oil

What you do:

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl adjusting flavors as necessary.

Are you also in serious need of a detox after this holiday season?  How are you going about your detox plan?

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