Sunday, June 27, 2010

something's (not) fishy

a lot of people are surprised to hear that as a vegan, one of my favorite food is sushi. "whaaa?!?!? how do you eat sushi? i thought you were veeegaaan?" they ask. well...for your information, sushi just means seaweed wrapped around cold rice and a toppping...dummy! and don't think i go to a japanese restaurant and order an amateur cucumber roll or something like that. i thought that sushi made with fish would be something i missed as a vegan but i was so so wrong. instead i discovered all the delicious vegan sushi options like sweet potato tempura, oshinko (japanese pickles) and all the various veggie-combo rolls.
i also started making my own sushi because i was eating it so often. it's actually really easy to do (did i mention it travels really well?) making it the perfect go-to lunch...or dinner...or breakfast (yup, i just admitted it)
here are a few snapshots of some sushi rolls i made over the year, blatantly exhibiting the evolution of my sushi-making-skillz:

first attempt-these were the only four that actually came out. obviously still an amateur.

brown rice kimchi roll on the right and no-rice spinach and marinated tempeh roll on the left. looks like some mung bean sprouts were thrown in too!

tofu-avocado on the left and kimchi on the right...honing those skillz

did i mention warm sushi is delicious too??

i invested in some classy butterfly chopsticks

this roll is made with tahini (its easier to spread it if you wisk it with a little water first) and sliced carrots and sauerkraut. i know it sounds gross but there is something about the savory/sweet/salty combo that is so so good. accompanied by some steamed kale (duh)

what is your favorite kind of vegan sushi?

Friday, June 25, 2010

how to cook your life

today i got vaccinated for yellow fever, hepatitis a, typhoid and polio (wtf!) in preparation for studying abroad in africa. i talked to the doctor (who specializes in disease prevention) about what there will be for me to eat as a vegan in ghana that wont err have me living in the bathroom for the entire four months that i will be there. he told be that the prominent cause of sickness over there and reason for such intense disease prevention (ie why i feel like i have two dead arms right now) is the poor quality of drinking water in third world countries. at first this was a hard concept for me to grasp as i have been spoiled by nyc tap water all my life

he informed me that i must avoid all fruits and vegetables that don't have a skin you can peel off (although if i bring a vegetable peeler and wash n peel veggies like carrots myself, they should be fine to eat) pretty much anything raw, and especially no food from street carts.
my dreams of stopping by the fruit lady, balancing an array of tropical treats on her head as i walked to class were destroyed.
"if all the fruits and vegetables are tainted, then what CAN i eat without getting sick" i asked him. you can eat what ever you want as long as it is boiled. raw fruits and vegetables have unsteral water all over them, and that is what will make you sick. and die. (he didn't actually say that last part) so, no foraging my way through the tropics, but at least i wont have to eat goat's blood and cornmeal, or whatever.

after walking home in the sweltering heat, feeling as if i had just got beat up, i collapsed on my bed and watched and unexpectedly amazing documentary called how to cook your life.

German filmmaker Doris Dörrie documents a summer in the life of renowned Zen practitioner and cook Edward Espe Brown as he teaches culinary classes in Zen centers in Austria and California, revealing the role food plays in our bodies and spirits. Informative, provocative and funny, Brown serves up a unique combination of inspiring wisdom and kitchen skills that will raise even the most demanding foodie to new spiritual and gastronomic heights. (via netflix)

it was really so inspiring. Edward Espe Brown seems like such a cool dude. at one point he quotes his guru, suzukie roshi, by saying, "when you're cooking, your not just working on food. you're also working on yourself. you're working on other people." i know this sounds really crazy, hippy-dippy but its so true. it actually gives us health and vitality to make things by hand (and then we give it away) where as buying fake, overly processed stuff without thinking about it harms yourself (lack of nutrition, satisfaction etc...) and the environment (excess packaging, production pollution, waste...) the overlying message that resonated with me is that the outcome of our life is in our own hands! in addition to inspirational, i found it to be pretty this one crazy forager lady who walks around her neighborhood with a big bowl and picks shit out of peoples backyards and dumpsters! definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


"let food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food"
-Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, 460-377 BC
Around the same time I became vegan (october 2009) I also began looking into macrobiotics.
this article describes the basis of macrobiotics from which i've also excerpted below:

What is Macrobiotics?

The macrobiotic approach is based on the view that we are the result of and are continually influenced by our total environment, which ranges from the foods we eat and our daily social interactions to the climate and geography in which we live.

In considering all factors that influence our lives, the macrobiotic approach to health and healing views sickness as the natural attempt of the body to return to a more harmonious and dynamic state with the natural environment. As what we choose to eat and drink and how we live our lives are primary environmental factors that influence our health and create who we are, the macrobiotic approach emphasizes the importance of proper dietary and lifestyle habits. The macrobiotic diet is centered around whole grains and supplemented with other foodstuffs such as vegetables and beans, and avoiding the use of highly processed or refined foods and requiring that food be chewed thoroughly before swallowing.

Where does Macrobiotics come from?

The macrobiotic approach is based on principles, theories and practices that have been known to philosophers, scholars, and physicians throughout history. The term "macrobiotics" comes from Greek ("macro" meaning "large" or "long", and "bios" meaning "life") and was first coined by Hippocrates, the father of western medicine. The most recent development stems from Michio Kushi who was inspired by philosopher-writer George Ohsawa.

some good resources:
-hip chick's guide to macrobiotics by jessica porter- i also suggest you buy the book, this lady is super funny and relatable
-"modern-day macrobiotics" by simon g. brown- really breaks down all the key concepts and makes it all easy to digest (pun intended)
-"the kind diet" by alicia silverstone-if you haven't already figured out i am obsessed with this woman. she is amazing and her book is half information about health and veganism and the second half is all the best recipes. all in one place! i reference this book ALL the time. so go buy it! also

nowwww for some macro-vegan food porn:

macro-perfection! steamed kale and quinoa
oh, just some veggies chillin' in the steamer
carrot and burdock kinpira (page 272 of The Kind Diet)
brown rice, edamame and hijiki seaweed salad in my silly confetti bowl
gingered green beans with hijiki (page 259 of The Kind Diet)
alicia's magical healing soup (page 251 of The Kind Diet)

now i'm not sayin' that i'm anywhere near being perfectly macro. although, i wish i could say i live solely off of steamed vegetables, beans, seaweeds and brown rice chewed 50 times per bite. but in reality i'm busy and don't always have the time to cook, or even remember to chew when life gets really hectic. plus i love snacks! and vegan treats, and i don't think it helped that i had class on the same block as stogo last semester...but it's all a process right? i try to eat macro most of the time and love the benefits i get from doing so. it has made obvious to me the connection between what we eat and how we feel. when i eat sugar or caffein (yup, im talking to you licorice wheels and soy chai latte's!!) my anxiety goes haywire, i can't concentrate and feel unmotivated and sluggish. when i start my day with a warm bowl of brown rice and some steamed kale, i feel centered, happy and energetic. some other added bonuses i've noticed from eating macro:

-more sensitive taste buds. since seasonings are minimal you really begin to actually TASTE every subtle flavor
-it's surprisingly cheaper (if you buy grains and beans in bulk, produce seasonally and avoid packaged, processed food)
-help the environment-check back for a nice, juicy post on this to come! (TKD page 22)
-help the animals (do i need to say that killing is a pretty big deal, and by choosing NOT to consume animals, also choose NOT to support the totally inhumane meat production industry)
-help yourself!! duhh! this should really be first on the list. i'm slowly starting to realize more and more that you can't help anyone (human or not) unless you help yourself first. if you fell like shit, how can you accomplish anything in this world? plus, when you don't get sick as much (because you are feeding your body actual nutrients, NOT junk pumped unpronounceable fillers!) you have so much more time to do the things you love, with the people you love (because you don't have to worry about being all contagious and sneezey and gross :)


a silly little survey i copped from

1. Favorite non-dairy milk? soy/rice milk blend from Eden

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook? Sweet potato and kale quesedillas, oven baked oatmeal sounds sooo good, and this vegan pizza with roasted garlic coconut cream and sun dried tomatoes is just genius!

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? just made some "chipotle-cheese" stove top popcorn. i topped it with some earth balance right out of the pot and then sprinkled on plenty of nutritional yeast, paprika and some salt :)

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? anytime i get home from class or work and feel too tired to cook anything so i eat a bunch of snacks while staring into the refrigerator...i consider that to be meal failure.

5. Favorite pickled item?

6. How do you organize your recipes? i bookmark all the delicious recipes that i find online or i will bookmark the recipe index or home page of blog that i think is just awesome and want to check frequency.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? i'm happy to say that my roommate and i had a compost under our bathroom sink when i lived in southern california in a dorm my freshman year. i would love to compost in my apartment now that i live in brooklyn but we have enough uninvited critters already.

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)? kale (duh), brown rice and chickpeas (so i could make hummus!)

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? buying lobsters live from the store and then bringing them home and keeping them in our bathtub until we cooked them for dinner. my brother and i would have pretend lobster fights and choose which one was "ours". i can't even imagine playing with a live animal and then consuming it shortly after, but i thought it was cool at the time.

10. Favorite vegan ice cream? Lula's Sweet Apothecary in the east village. they have vegan soft serve made from cashew milk!!!

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? magic bullet, hands down.

12. Spice/herb you would die without? Cinnamon! It goes with sweet and savory!

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? err the internet? my first vegan cookbook, or more of an instruction manual that opened my eyes to the world of veganism was The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? hmm i just got some really good blueberry jam...

15. Favorite vegan recipe to serve to an omni friend? probably baked goods on the junkier side like chocolate chip cookies or something like that. my homemade granola is always a hit too.

16. Seitan, tofu, or tempeh? tempeh! it’s the closest to its whole state, has the best texture, and who doesn’t love that rich, fermented taste? plus, um, tempeh bacon. Duh.

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? brunch

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? a really old jug of Carlo Rossi, a box of flexi straws, ice pop holders, solo cups, some empty liquor bottles...hmmm i should really pay more attention up there

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. frozen fruit, bulk grains and flours (keeps longer) pizza dough

20. What’s on your grocery list? garlic scapes, kale, whatever looks good at the farmers market!

21. Favorite grocery store? Trader Joe’s and 4th Street Food Coop!

22. Name a recipe you’d love to veganize, but haven’t yet. hmmm i want to make my own veggie burgers, but those are already veganized

23. Food blog you read the most. Or maybe the top 3? Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Life because i love everything that woman does, Sweet Beet and Green Bean has beautiful pictures and Yeah, That "Vegan" Shit because that chick is mad funny.

24. Favorite vegan candy/chocolate? hmmm probs Endangered Species dark chocolate, soooo many flavors. the espresso bean one and the ginger one are both so flame!

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? i don't know about "extravagant" but i just bought a package of 50 pieces of nori seaweed to bring with me to Africa and it cost $30 so it felt pretty "extravagant" at the time but i know i will totally use all of it.

26. Ingredients you are scared to work with? i don't know that i'm "scared" to work with any particular ingredients, but do have a tendency to stray from food replacements like fake meats, cheese and eggs. instead i prefer to use real foods that don't necessarily replicate but stand as their own in dishes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

garlic (e)scapes

White Russian Kale, Redleaf Lettuce and Garlic Scapes

yesterday i went to the farmer's market to pick up some green things for the next few days. when i went to pay for my green leaf lettuce and russian kale this adorable farmer started asking me about how i was planning on preparing my kale. i told him i was planning on using part of it for a raw salad and would probably sate the rest. he got really excited and asked me if i had ever tried garlic scapes i said that although i had read some some pretty dope things about them, i had not yet tried them myself. after taking the time to walk me through the whole technique and ripping off the stem of some plant whose name i forgot and shoving the lemony deliciousness into my mouth, he told me i could take three garlic scapes (which pretty much look like scallions on crack) on my way out because he liked me. i love being a girl :)
when i got home i busied myself making THE PERFECT VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES to bring to father's day dinner with my fam. obvi had to taste test the cookies at all stages of the process and ended up eating about a million so that was my lunch. eww. dinner was at a new stake house on the upper west side where i enjoyed a salad made with white cabbage and shaved brussels sprouts with an avocado-y dressing, some veggie soup and grilled asparagus and kale. everyone seemed to really like the cookies. you could still taste the banana, but it was way subtle. my seven year-old sister took one bite and put her cookie down. i guess she is the real cookie expert.

"Freedom Cookies"- making vegan cookies more appealing to predominantly carnivorous family. bleh marketing

i couldn't stop thinking about the garlic scapes though. i woke up today craving kale sated with garlic scapes. so i made them.
i first ripped the kale leaves off the stems just like my farmer friend instructed me to.

Stems N' Leaves
next i diced up the stems of the kale and the garlic scapes and sated them in some olive oil for about five minutes. i then sliced up the kale leaves and washed them but did not dry them so that they retained some water to help them steam up a bit when i added them to the pan. after about two minutes or so i dumped the whole thing into a big bowl and dug in!

not so long after i decided to whip up one of my favorite go-to meals:

what is that plate?

BROWN RICE VEGGIE SUSHI using the leftover kale in one of the rolls along with some sliced carrots, daikon radish, cucumber and avocado(so key!) the other roll had the same raw veggies but featured my HIJIKI SALAD:
2 handfuls of dried hijiki seaweed
hot water to cover
~1 tbsn tamari soy sauce (you could use shoyu but this i what i had in the house)
~1 tsp agave
juice from 1 inch piece of grated ginger
1 splash ume vinegar (i think you could sub apple cider vinegar or another type or probably omit this as im not sure if it actually does anything)
1/2 cup boiled edamame (optional)

finished off this drawn-out, dream-of-a-meal with a perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie and some green tea. mmmhmm lazy monday :)