Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tofu With Tortillas

I found this recipe because it was the 4th down and we had to punt, or run with the ball. I, myself, had wanted Mexican night, but I did not call to see if we need anything. then my daughter said that her and her father would be out an about so if we needed anything they could pick it up. My husband then, politely told my daughter that I had just spent nearly $200 on groceries the last time I was at the grocery store, so he was not about to go and pick up miscellaneous items. And he was right.

She then pointed out that there was no cheese. But I told her, there was no rule book that said there 'had' to be cheese on Mexican night. What do vegans do? Oh yeah, do without. Then I realized I had no bulgur, which is what I use as my meat substitution since trying to get away from processed meat analogs. Then it hit me, I had a few scraps of different blocks of tofu and could use that instead. Time to break out the cookbooks....all 13 of them.

I struck gold when I got to number two. I found this gem of a recipe in my Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook. We had at least 95 % of thee ingredients and besides, we were all starving, so we made it work. Here is this simple recipe and is a great introduction for those who want to try tofu but have no clue how to use it. Well here is your chance to dive in.

1T virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
6 corn tortillas, torn or cut into 1-inch pieces (we left ours whole & made our own)
3 plum tomatoes, diced (we used on the vine tomatoes)
1 pound firm tofu (we used scraps of tofu from left over bits of tofu from other recipes I had made through the week)
1-14 ounce can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (we used Ro-tel lime and cilantro flavor)
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 dried oregano
Salt to taste
1 cup grated cheddar cheese or soy cheese (we had mozzarella)(optional)
Prepared salsa (optional)(we had none)
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring until lightly golden. Add the remaining ingredients except the cheese and salsa, cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with grated cheese, cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes more. Serve as is or top with salsa.

I did not cover mine with a lid, for it was very liquidy and I wanted some of that liquid to cook off. It worked. I also did not put the cheese directly on the dish while it was cooking. Some folks like easy cheese and others like to pile it on, so we grate it into a serving bowl and everyone can do as they please. I would definitely make this one again. I like simple dishes that I can whip together in just minutes and use with few pre-packaged products, and this one fit the bill.

Monday, May 24, 2010

You Can Cook

So may people think you need to be a chef to go into a kitchen to create a lovely meal. Nothing could be further from the truth. all you need is a passion...and a passion for food and for showing others what your passion is, which is food.

I myself, could be in the kitchen (dishes included) all day long and not give a care. I did that, about 4 years ago at Thanksgiving. My sister was here with her brood and my other sister showed up and we were nearly 19 some-odd people strong. We cranked in the kitchen from right after breakfast until the time we sat down. Now granted, there were many people to cook for, but I have learned as I go along with each now holiday and this next will set folks on their heels. Thanksgiving of 2010, we will not serve meat.

I can see my husband saying it now. These people expect meat. OK, then let them cook it and bring it. I have no problem with that, I myself will not be cooking a poor defenseless bird this year. I have no problem with others eating meat but I no longer feel the pressure to 'entertain' people in my home and go by their rules. I am not trying to come off as condescending, but I no longer feel I have to conform to everyone else's norm. It is not what I do, so why do it now? What if I did not consume alcohol, would folks expect me to serve liquor at my house if it went against the grain of my beliefs? I think not, so what is the difference? There isn't any difference. It's just that so many folks feel that you 'have to' have meat at the table that they feel lost without it. I feel just thee opposite. I find it a challenge to fill that void, so bring it on.

I do have a feeling however, that our guests may be smaller when we declare that there will be no bird...or pig for that matter, gracing our tables. With that out there, you can very easily start on your own private journey and get in the kitchen. They say, 'A way to a mans heart is through his stomach', that is so very true. But you may feel inadequate in the kitchen. Well let those feelings go. Stop being afraid, for that is when two things happen. 1) Your fear over takes you and it has then won. 2) When you become afraid, accidents happen. So find your mojo and let's see what is so good about being home in the kitchen over that lousy drive-thru window with even crappier food.

1) It's economical.
Home cooking saves none. Do the math yourself. Figure out how much it would take you to eat out 3 meals a day and do give me that dollar menu for all three meals, I ain't buyin' that.

2) It's safer.
When you do the cooking, you have control over what goes into your meals. And buying organic makes it all that healthier.

3) It's Healthier.
Even if you are not a raw vegan, you can still eat healthier. For anyone who has seen me in action, you all know the 3 questions I tell you to ask about your food. a) Can you pronounce thee ingredients? b) Would you have those ingredients in your pantry? c) Would your great-grandmother recognize it as real food? Know what is in your food and where it comes from.

4) It tastes better.
You may find your food may need a touch more salt for a while, but that is because you have been brainwashed, manipulated into thinking that is what you want and or need. WRONG! Big food chains have been changing your taste buds for years, but let me be the one to tell you, you do not need 1,238 milligrams of sodium to have something taste good.

5) It tastes like you want it to.
You like spicy, nutty, sweet, then go for it, but there is only so much they can alter when the food has been processed beyond anything and made in some factory. But at home, skies the limit and how your food can taste.

6) It's satisfying.
There is nothing more satisfying to your stomach and to your ego than to see people enjoy your creation. And you can take full credit for making that rice pilaf and smile all the while. Go on, you deserve it.

7) It makes reducing meat consumption easier.
If you haven't tried it yet, visit, Meatless Monday and see how many people are giving it a day at a time. Small moves people, small moves.

8) It is a gift to future generations. 100 years ago there was no such a thing as a restaurant chain, or mass produced foods, or factory farmed animals. People took the time to cook and then sit with family and enjoy said meal. How many of you actually sit down at an actual dinner table and eat together with any member of your family? I do, even if it is only one of my family. We have gotten away from that tradition. Maybe you can kindle that again in your home. And sitting in front of the TV with a slice of pizza does not count.

9) It enriches your life.
Have a pot luck dinner. Do a dinner and a movie night. Do a food theme night that correlates with a board game or movie or color coordinate with a holiday. At Saint Patrick's Day have everyone bring something native to Ireland or bring something green. You get my drift.

10) It makes a statement.
When you tell someone that you will not join them at the sports bar or the local pizza house, and they ask why...tell them. Maybe by hearing your reasons, you will have planted a seed. they may not take root right away, but eventually you will hit upon someone who it does take hold with.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Where Do You Get Your Protein?

I teach raw cooking classes every month at our local health food store. As I explore the raw food aspect of eating I am discovering so many new things. And I am also learning as I go along. That is what is so wonderful about what I do. I can teach and learn at the same time. And the people in my lovely audience do not seem to care. For we all know that eating healthier is a no-brainer. So just do it, as Nike says.

But it takes me by surprise that even in this day and age, I still get asked this question, 'Where do you get your protein?' And sometimes, I have to think about it, for, to me, it is ingrained that I get mine from sources other than an animal, that I no longer even think about it. But I am learning that omnivores are still being led to believe that you 'NEED' to eat your meat. Wrong. And thee only people who benefit from you consuming so much protein, are 3 people and they are...1) The cattle industry, 2) Your cardiologist, 3) Your pharmacist.

With that said, if you suddenly got all better and no longer needed drugs or your doctor, the balance of our society would be greatly altered. So I have put together some cut little answers/come-backs to the people who still find it necessary to ask the standard vegetarian question, 'Where do you get your protein?'

1) Where do I get my protein?
a) Same place meat does...greens!

2) How are you supposed to gain muscle if you do not eat meat?
a) Let's go ask an elephant, rhino, gorilla...shall I go on?

3) How potent is your protein from your plant based foods?
a) 100 calories of steak is 5.4 grams of protein. 100 calories of broccoli is 11.2, you do the math.

4) Aren't you protein deficient?
a) No one has even been diagnosed with protein deficiency, but, you can consume too much protein. The average American on a SAD (Standard American Diet) consumes, on average around 100 grams of protein a day. But all thee average American needs is around 30 grams.

Now For Some Did You Knows

Green vegetables are about 1/2 protein, 1/4 carbs and 1/4 fat.

Animal protein promotes every type of cancer in rats.

The amount of animal protein consumption in china is directly correlated to cancer incidences. Read, 'The China Study', you will understand.

All animal protein is devoid of fiber.

So, after you give an omnivore any or all of these answers, turn to them and politely ask, 'Where do you get your fiber?'

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Zippy Zucchini & Carrots

Well, at my raw food class last night I made two recipes. Both were from Rita Romano's book Dining in the Raw. I found it at a book bin at my local flea market that is funded by Martin County Library Systems. I go there specifically looking for cookbooks. And I have found quite a few different books. Granted, I only look for vegetarian books, but I am finding them all the same.

This recipe I made because the first one also had carrots. This was thee other recipe I made. Now you have to remember that the zucchini salad I had not made of yet so my audience was the guinea pigs. But hey, it is a free class and you can see the ingredients, you decide. And I liked the different taste the dressing gave, but if I had to do it again, I would not julienne the zucchini. I would either shred it or use a potato peeler to get it to the consistency I like. So without further adieu, here comes last nights recipe.

2 zucchini, shredded or julienned
3 carrots, shredded
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 t nutmeg
1/8 t cayenne pepper
2T tahini
Braggs to taste (this is soy sauce...basically)
Julienne zucchini and carrots. (I preferred to shred mine. I think they vegetables absorb the flavors of the dressing better.) Combine remaining ingredients in a blender with 1/2 cup water. (If I did this one again, I would put the dressing ingredients in a small mini chopper and whirl it around) Pour over vegetables, mix well and serve.

I really like how this dressing broke the traditional mold of oil with lemon or oil with vinegar. So many of us, even if we prepare food from scratch, get into a rut with food. This recipe definitely made me think out of my own little food box. I will make this at home and hope everyone likes it as much as I did.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Food With A View

Sometimes I truly amaze myself with these witty titles. And if you don't get the title, ask me next time I see you and I shall explain. Moving on to more pressing matters. There has been quite a bit of buzz over the movie Food Inc. And rightfully so. We, as consumers, have been led to believe that what we throw into our grocery carts is food. I beg to differ. I was recently at a cooking event at a local high school. And I gave them a mini quiz...of sorts. I took 4 common things that are called food, listed thee ingredients, then let them see if they could figure it out for themselves. They were instructed not to Google the list and see if they could come up with 'any' of the foods listed...teacher included. Only one young lady got that one of the foods was a poptart. Other than that, no one could name the foods.

I then asked three questions, which is lately, becoming my new mantra. And here is what I ask people when they question my eating choices (see, I did not have to say diet):

1) Can you read and pronounce the list of ingredients on the back of any given food product in your cupboard/pantry?
Answer: No body admitted to being able to read any label in their pantry. So thee answer was a resounding no.

2) Would you have said ingredients in your own cupboard/pantry?
Answer: And again, no one fessed up to having high fructose corn syrup, let alone sodium stearoyl lactylate on their shelves at home. So again that answer was a hearty no.

3) Would your great grandmother recognize it as real food?
Answer: and of course the answer was no.

I no longer have to be the food police. I just show people what is out there and they take any or all of that information and do with it as they so please. If they choose to put on blinders then so be it, but it is not because I have not informed them. Do your own research, see what is being done to our food. In a word, it has been and is being bastardized. Major corporations like Monsanto are genetically modifying our food, just to it can resist certain bugs during the growing season. Plants are being manipulated to be able to let them grow on the same patch of land over and over again. Guess these big agri-businesses never heard of crop rotation.

I am going to give you a list of some of the films I have seen and will be seeing in the fore seeable future, to get me up to speed about our food industry. We, as consumers, have the power to bring any company to their knees. Want to know how? Thee almighty dollar. I know a dear friend of mine will not purchase any food if they give microwave instructions on their box. And yes, you guessed it, she does not use a microwave, but then neither do I. I will not purchase anything from Kraft. For they are partnered with Phillip Morris and I will not support the tobacco industry. So bye bye went my Boca Burgers. Yes, Boca Burger's are owned by Kraft. Not in my freezer any longer.

Will my lowly dollar make a difference? Probably not, but I plan on spreading the word and tell people to write to anyone you feel the need to. Your congressman, senator, food companies. You name them...write them. The power of the pen, and it is mightier then the sword. Hit them where it hurts, their pocket books.

Movies to watch:

1) Food Inc.
This movies tells it like it is and what our so-called food has become. There are some mild graphics so be aware you will be observing slaughter houses.

2) Fed Up
I tried to find a site with information about this documentary, but did not find any good ones. It is on Netflix and I was able to watch it instantly. Find it and see what has been and is being done to our food supply.

3) Food Matters
Heck, the trailer alone gives me gooseflesh. This film is sitting on my TV as I type this waiting for me to view it. I am so pumped up and will comment here on my blog. I have always believed that doctors, pharmaceuticals and lawyers are all in bed together, but that is just me. And why would doctors want to truly make us better? For if they did, they would be out of business.

4) The Future of Food
This film scares me into realizing how our so-called government is suppose to watch out for us and regulate our food for safety...riiiight!

5) Our Daily Bread
If you think your food is not being manipulated, then think again. Scientist will tell you it is for the betterment of things. My theory is, if you mess with mother nature long enough, she will bit back.

6) Raw for 30 Days
This makes me want to cry, and tears of both kinds. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. There is nothing better than to see someones light bulb go on. What truly amazed me about this was the emotional detox these people went through and only due to the food they ate. This is a very inspirational film. And we all know someone who is diabetic.

I have given you so much to take in for one post. And I will be adding more films as I go along. What I know is that knowledge is power and we are empowered we can makes choices and those will then become changes. We all have thee ability to do things with our lives. We 'can' change the choice at a time.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How to make a Green Smoothie

Well I have finally taken the dive and started to make green smoothies. And yet, I have not purchased a high-powered blender. I am using my nearly 30 year old Hamilton Beach blender. So, until I can see my way to get a Vita-Mix or Blendtec, I will probably only be able to make green smoothies with spinach. For it is thee easiest green to pulverize.

Do not get me wrong, they are still extremely delicious. I go through about 1 bag of spinach a day. My recipe makes about 1 quart and I split that with hubby. So, we are not getting the 15 veggies she is touting about in this video, but heck if I am only getting 7 in my 1/2 quart...I can live with that. Can any of you say that you even come close to getting 7 a day of fresh fruit and vegetables, let alone 15.

I will eventually work my way up to 1 quart a day, but I love how they taste, and each green smoothie is nothing like the one I made the day before. So I use what I have and deal with it. I did however, purchase a bag of frozen fruit to be able to add to my smoothies in case I run out of my surplus of frozen bananas.

It was not as difficult as I though to make and or drink these luscious little drinks. They go down smooth and I look forward to the day that I do not have to split my quart with my hubby.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Faux Egg Salad

This was made on a whim and spur of the moment type night. I am so not a wing it person, and my cookbooks are always close at hand. I had 2 tubs of tofu that I needed to get used up. So I skimmed through my How it All Vegan and Viola, up popped this faux egg salad recipe. All I can say is, my-oh-my. This is definitely a keeper. Just one more reason to buy a tub of tofu.

1lb medium tofu, mashed (we used firm)(please remember to squeeze out the excess water first)
1/2 cup soy mayo (we make our own with this recipe)
4T chopped parsley
1/4 cup relish (we used sweet relish)
1&1/2 T prepared mustard *We like Ba-Tampte. It is thee best mustard on the planet*
1-2 stalks green onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced (I put mine through a press)
1&1/2 t salt
1/4 t turmeric
Ina medium bowl, mash the tofu with your hands (I used a potato masher) or fork and add the remaining ingredients. Mix together well and chill before serving. (We had to get dinner on the table and it was still fine served immediately) Makes 2-4 servings.

Wow, this was so good that my husband prefers this one over my fake tuna salad. And I would have to agree with him. And this was so close to the real thing that my daughter would not eat it. Scary, huh??

What Do Vegetarians Eat Anyway?

I think there is a blog with that name. And to be totally honest, I hear it all the time. And I am always ready for those who do inquire. Wait for it...'Everything you don't.' that is. And for the record, vegetarians do not eat fish. If they do, then they are certainly not vegetarians. Unless by some cosmic design, they moved fish to the plant category...yeah, that's what I thought. And this is from Merriam-Websters definition of what a vegetarian is:

'consisting wholly of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains, and sometimes eggs, or dairy products'

Well, there you have it folks, no fish in that description, what-so-ever. And now back to what do we eat. Well let me give you a view as what we do eat at any given dinner time. Tonight's dinner were these dishes.

Hot Crash Potatoes

Faux Egg Salad

Japanese eggplant sauteed in teryaki sauce

Bok choy, lightly pan fried with onions, garlic and hot pepper flakes

Roasted carrots and garlic *which accompanied the potatoes up above

Fattoush Salad *minus the lettuce*

So, as you can plainly see, we do not lack in the way of food on our plates. In fact, I was so stuffed, that I could not finish my faux egg salad. But it will go with me for lunch tomorrow, that is for sure. So do not think you 'need' to have meat on your plate, for it is not necessary, and your figure and heart will thank you.

Kimchi~~Korean Sauerkraut

This is another recipe that I cannot believe that I have not posted. Am I nuts? Do not answer that. So, now that I am moving into a more raw type diet, I will surely be adding these types of dishes. If you do not know, fermented food is one of the best foods to ingest, and for many reasons. It is a natural preservative and it beats the heck out of store bought pickles. Again, they have turned a beautiful type of food and turned it into garbage.

Try this and you will not regret it. They are simple and easy to make. And my son tells me, as long as I can keep up production, he will fore go store bought and eat mine on his subs!! Yeah to me.

1 head green or Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup grated daikon radish (optional, but I used it and liked it)
1-2T freshly grated ginger
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 t dried chile flakes
2 t sea salt
1/2 cup filtered water
Place vegetables, ginger and red chile flakes in a bowl and mash down with a wooden pounder to release juices. Stuff into a 2 quart-sized wide-mouth mason jars and press down with pounder. The top of the vegetables should be 1 inch below top of jar. Mix water with salt and pour over cabbage mixture. Add additional water if needed to bring liquid to top of cabbage. Cover tightly. Keep in a warm place for 2-3 days before transferring to cold storage.

I did not have a 2 quart mason jar so I put it into two 1 quart-sized jars and it worked out just fine. You may leave the jars out on your counter and they will ferment just fine. Remember, you may hear a bit of hissing as the veggies are doing their thing. So don't think you have a snake in your kitchen, it is just veggies expanding.

I found this recipe from Nourishing Traditions. And even thought she does have many a meat recipes in this book. Her philosophy is all about traditional cooking and no processed foods. I would recommend this book, even with the meat recipes in it. Tons of information in this book.