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Calcium Sources, Entrees, Essential Fats, For Beginners, Gluten-Free, Healthy Body, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Vegetables

The Mighty Power of Sea Vegetables! (omega-3’s)


All too often, when many of us decide to widen our circle of compassion to other animals, fish seem to get excluded from that circle. In my journey going vegan, fish were the last animals I stopped eating. Perhaps this is because fish aren’t enough “like us” or they aren’t “cute” or they don’t make sounds when they are in pain. I also believed, as many do, that eating fish was healthy, even necessary. This, however, could not be more wrong. Fish are NOT a health food.

How could fish possibly be healthy when they are so heavily laden with toxic chemicals that pregnant woman are advised to avoid consuming them? In addition, like all animal products, fish are high in cholesterol. Per gram, fish has comparable cholesterol levels to beef, chicken, and pork. And per calorie, fish has even higher cholesterol levels. As Dr. John McDougall describes, “feeding fish to people instead of beef, pork, or chicken, causes predictable increases in their blood cholesterol levels that are virtually the same.”

As an animal protein, the protein from fish are highly acidic in nature, making it terrible for the bones. When we consume highly acidic protein (which all animal proteins are) the body must take measures to balance out the blood and make it more alkaline. To do so, the body pulls calcium, the mineral in our body that is most alkaline, from the bones. Over time, the bones weaken as a result of this survival mechanism.

Some may now be thinking, “Well, what about omega-3 fatty acids? Don’t we need to consume fish to get those?” Absolutely not! The omega-3 fats in fish are derived from the algae or the algae-eating creatures they consume. That’s right, they get them from plants! Plus, the majority of fish consumed in the US are farmed (90 percent of all salmon!) and fed a diet of cheap fish meal which is devoid of those omega-3’s but high in antibiotics and pesticides. So there is no reason to eat fish to get the good stuff! We can go straight to the source ourselves–by eating sea vegetables!

Sea vegetables are among the most nutritionally dense foods in the world. They contain 10 times the calcium of cow’s milk and several times more iron than red meat. Sea veggies are also very high in protein and a rich source of vitamins (especially A, B, C, E, B12) and minerals (potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iodine). They also have some unusual and spectacular phytonutrients, including sulfated polysaccharides that bring along with them anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and cardiovascular benefits.

This seaweed stir-fry has become a staple in our kitchen. It’s really quick to prepare and it’s so, so tasty.

1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced and peeled ginger
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup thinly sliced kombu, soaked in water for 15 minutes
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
2 cups soaked and thinly sliced sea greens like arame, hijiki dulse, wakame, and alaria
1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons tamari
1 cup cooked brown rice (optional)
1. Heat a wok or a large, deep skillet over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, ginger, and scallions. Cook, stirring for about 15 seconds, then add the kombu, celery, chili flakes and sea greens. Then add the water and soy sauce, and turn the heat to high.
3. Cook, stirring constantly until the sea vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes.
4. Serve over brown rice or store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a day. Enjoy!
Sources: Dr. McDougall’s “Fish is Not Health FoodWHFoods: Sea VegetablesColor Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau; How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman
Breakfast, Calcium Sources, Entrees, For Beginners, Gluten-Free, Plant Proteins, Salads, Sauces & Dips, Vegetables

Tempeh “Bacon”


My husband Robert is the sweetest and most humble person I know, but he is a huge bacon snob! He grew up in the South and ate a lot of bacon for breakfast so he holds extremely high standards. I, however, raised a lowly Jew, have standards that are basically nonexistent. So the first time I made tempeh bacon was not a positive experience. Let’s just say it ended with me in tears. However, I bravely made a second attempt, and after the longest pause in history, Robert declared with a mouthful “that’s damn good.” And guess what? Tempeh bacon will not cause you or any pigs to die! Damn good, indeed.

Canola Oil
Liquid Smoke
Maple Syrup


In the photo above, I followed the tempeh bacon recipe in the video and then used the remaining marinade to saute some cremini mushrooms. Mushrooms are great because, like tempeh, they provide a chewy texture we mistakenly think can only be found in meat. I then served the tempeh bacon and the sauteed mushrooms over a bed of baby spinach, and voila! The result is a wonderful warm salad that is as gorgeous as it is delicious.

Calcium Sources, Entrees, Essential Fats, Plant Proteins, Vegetables

“Not Out to Lunch” Tempeh Sandwich


Robert has been eating a variation of this sandwich everyday for the past few weeks and loves it. It is so much cheaper than buying lunch out–even from the cheapest fast food place. It just takes two minutes to make and pack up in the morning–less than it takes to go through a drive-thru. And what could you possibly want from a drive-thru anyway? Some diabetes? A little bit of heart disease? Come on now! That’s just silly. So pack a lunch. It’s less expensive, less time consuming, less polluting, and so much healthier for you. And, of course, delicious!

1 package tempeh
chopped bell pepper
whole wheat bread

1. Make your tempeh on the weekend to use for the week. Cut it into 1/3 inch slices. Steam it for 10 minutes. Saute in a pan, about 5 minutes per side or till golden brown. Add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and cook for 1 minute more. Store in the fridge.
2. Take out two slices of bread, add your toppings, 4 slices of tempeh and you’ve got yourself a sandwich!

Entrees, Essential Fats, Gluten-Free, Plant Proteins, Sauces & Dips, Sides, Vegetables, Whole Grains

Beet Burgers + Fries + Homemade Ketchup!


You CAN enjoy delicious comfort food while also being comforted by the abundance of cancer-fighting, eyesight-promoting, and heart-supporting nutrients in this truly happy meal.

For burgers:
2 large beets
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
1 small onion
1/4 cup oil
3 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons tamari/soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
3 tablespoon water

For fries:
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

For ketchup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 lbs. ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice

For burgers:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine the grated beets, quinoa, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, onion, oil, parsley, garlic, tamari, and cayenne. Add salt to taste.
3. In a separate bowl mix, the flax seed and water until thick and gelatinous. Stir into the beet mixture.
4. Begin to form uniform-size patties (aim for about 12). If they are falling apart, create more of the flax seed and water mixture to add in.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm. Carefully flip halfway during the cooking time.
6. Suggested burger toppings: avocado slices, grilled red onions, sliced tomatoes, and Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise (a delicious eggless–and thus, much healthier–mayonnaise).

For fries:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
2. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise, and then each half into six slices.
3. In a large bowl, combine the sliced potatoes, oil, and spice mixture. Toss until the potatoes are evenly coated.
4. On a baking sheet, arrange the potatoes in a single layer. Bake until edges begin to crisp, about 40 minutes.

For ketchup:
1. Add olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onions and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft but not brown, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes (including all juice and seeds), brown sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard, celery salt, garlic powder, ground cloves, and allspice to the onions. Stir well to combine.
3. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
4. Allow the mixture to cook slightly, then place into a blender. Puree for about 1 minute, or until completely smooth.
5. Taste and add more salt if desired. Pour the mixture into an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Serve chipped or at room temperature. Yum!!

Sources: Recipes inspired from Color Me Vegan and Susan Odell; See health benefits of sweet potatoes, beets, tomatoes, and avocados

Calcium Sources, Entrees, Gluten-Free, Plant Proteins

Orange Ginger Tempeh

     This dish is so easy but so good! We loved the combination of sweet and citrusy flavors with the zing of ginger. Definitely a new favorite!

1 package tempeh
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from 3 or 4 oranges)
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3 cloves garlic, minced

1. Cut the tempeh into slices about 1/3 of an inch thick. Steam for 10 minutes and then set aside.
2. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Once it gets really hot, add the tempeh slices and fry for until they are golden brown on one side, about 5-7 minutes. Turn the slices over and cook on the other side.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the orange juice, fresh ginger, tamari, rice vinegar, maple syrup, and coriander and stir.
4. Once the tempeh is nice and crispy on both sides, pour the marinade into the pan, along with the garlic. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to a thick glaze. Turn the tempeh once more during this time.
5. Serve the tempeh drizzled with any remaining sauce. Enjoy!
Source: Color Me Vegan
Entrees, Fruit, Gluten-Free, Holiday, Plant Proteins, Sauces & Dips

Tempeh with Cherry Balsamic Reduction Sauce


This week I have been experimenting with some fancy vegan dishes to serve at my parents’ Passover seder. This dish definitely fits the bill. The colors and flavors are so rich and romantic. And it’s so easy to prepare that it shouldn’t be limited to special occasions.

1 package tempeh, cut into 1/2-inch strips
3-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup fresh halved cherries or 1/2 cup dried cherries
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
1 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup nondairy milk (such as almond, soy, rice, hazelnut, hemp, or oat)

1. Steam the tempeh for 10 minutes in a steamer basket placed in a pot filled with a small amount of water.
2. Heat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat and sear the tempeh until it’s crispy on one side, about 5 minutes. Turn and do the same on the second side. Each side should be golden brown.
3. Remove the tempeh fro the skillet and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels (to absorb some of the oil).
4. In a small saucepan, combine the water and sugar and gently stir over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved.
5. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cherries and balsamic vinegar. (If the sugar hardens after you add the cherries and vinegar, just return the saucepan to low heat and gently stir until the sugar melts once more.) Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
6. Meanwhile, in the skillet you used for the tempeh, heat the remaining 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, and add the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes.
7. Add the wine, bring the mixture to a boil, and boil until reduced to around 2/3 cup.
8. Add the stock, return the mixture to a boil, and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup again.
9. Stir in the milk and the cherry mixture and cook for just 5 more minutes until it’s reduced a little more and thickened up.
10. Divide the tempeh between 2 plates and top with the sauce. Enjoy!

Source: Color Me Vegan

Entrees, Fruit, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Soups & Stews, Vegetables

Caribbean Plantain + Pinto Stew


I used to think plantains were just old bananas that supermarkets kept in stock in hopes that people would buy them to make banana bread. When I moved to Brooklyn and noticed that even the smallest quickie mart carried these black bananas I just thought people in Brooklyn must really have a thing for banana bread. Silly me! As the rest of the world probably knows already, plantains are a major component of Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, and are used in soups, stews, and desserts. I was completely blown away by the combination of flavors in this stew–both sweet and spicy–and owe many of my thanks to the plantains. This recipe definitely goes on my list of top favorites.

1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
1 yellow pepper, chopped finely
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup cooking sherry (any cooking wine will do, or sub vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed OR 2/3 cup dried pintos, soaked overnight
2 ripe plantains, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. If using the soaked beans: place beans in a pot with fresh water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered for 60 minutes. If using canned beans, continue directly to step 2.
2. In a soup pot over medium heat, saute the onions, peppers, jalapenos, and garlic for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
3. Add the tomatoes, sherry, salt, and cumin. Cover and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are cooked and broken down.
4. Add the pinto beans and plantains. Cover and simmer for another 20-25 minutes.
5. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with cilantro.

Source: Inspired by a recipe in “Veganomicon”

Calcium Sources, Entrees, Essential Fats, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Vegetables

BBQ Black-Eyed Pea-Collard Rolls

     Robert and I were recently talking about why people think it’s so much harder to be vegan than it actually is. He made the point that people don’t always recognize that what they like most about animal-based dishes are the seasonings and sauces, not the actual flesh itself. This is an unfortunate misconception because so many seasonings and sauces can easily be enjoyed on plant-based foods and would result in a meal that is so much healthier (and much less harmful to animals and the environment). So this week I’ve been making new recipes with a specific goal in mind: to show that even the most seemingly not-vegan-friendly cuisines (i.e. BBQ) can easily be enjoyed without the use of animals and without sacrificing taste.
   Since becoming vegan, we have each been exposed to so many new foods and both feel that being vegan is incredibly expansive. For me, these collard rolls are a perfect case in point. I’d heard of collard greens before as being major part of southern cuisine but the only time I’d ever seen them was in my college cafeteria (in New England) and they kind of looked like sewage. I also had very low exposure to black-eyed peas. The only time I’d ever eaten them was once a year on New Years and that was because my mother would insist we needed to have “at least one bite” or we’d be cursed with bad luck for the entire year. So, obviously collards and black-eyed peas weren’t foods for which I had a great deal of affection. Robert, on the other hand, lit up when he saw what I was cooking. “Wow! It’s so southern!” he exclaimed. And then he went on and on reminiscing about his dad’s cooking growing up. So there you go, a prime example of my experiencing something new and Robert’s rekindling the flame of the comforting flavors of his past.
   These rolls were so much fun to make! They were also really, really tasty. Collard greens are pretty and delicious, and make for perfect rolling material because of their sturdiness. Collards are GREAT for heart health because of their high folate content and fiber-related nutrients. They are also an excellent source of vitamin K and a very good source of omega-3’s. AND, 3/4 cup of collard greens has more calcium than a glass of cow’s milk. How nice that good-for-you food and good-tasting comfort food can easily be one and the same 🙂
12 collard leaves
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced thickly
3 cups copped collards
1 1/2 cups black-eyed peas, cooked (or 1 15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
3 cups Dillon Panthers BBQ Sauce (click on link for recipe)
note: One bunch of collards should give you enough to prepare this recipe.
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. When the water is boiling, submerge the 12 collard leaves and cover for 6 minutes. When done, use tongs to transfer them to a strainer and let cool. Handle them gently so that they don’t rip.
3. Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms for about 5 minutes, until softened.
4. Add the chopped collards. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until most of the moisture has cooked off.
5. Add the black-eyed peas and cook through.
6. Pour on 2 cups of the BBQ sauce and cook for about 5 minutes more. If it looks watery, turn the heat up a bit and cook a few more minutes.
7. Let cook just a bit so that you can make the rolls without burning yourself.
8. Place a collard on a flat work surface. Place about 2 tablespoons of the black-eyed peas and company in the lower third of the collard. Fold the bottom up over the mixture, then fold in the sides. Roll the collard up, gently but firmly. Continue this way with the remaining collards. Spoon extra BBQ sauce over the rolls and/or make available for dunking.
Sources: nutritional benefits of collard greensrecipe from “Veganomicon”
Entrees, Fruit, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Sides, Vegetables, Whole Grains

Golden Rice with Curried Apricot Dressing


This dish is similar to paella but it has more sweetness in flavor. The apricot dressing is loaded with richness and spice, and makes the whole rice mixture really creamy. This recipe could easily satisfy 4 people, but keep in mind that before we started eating we were certain there would be leftovers but it was so good that we didn’t want to stop eating. But hey, that’s another great thing about eating a plant-based, whole foods diet– it’s all good-for-you stuff, so helping yourself to seconds (and thirds and fourths) is fine!

Update: I tried adding a can of chickpeas to this dish and really enjoyed it. It’s delicious either way, but I now prefer it with the chickpeas.

1 tablespoon water or vegetable stock, for sauteing
1 medium sweet yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 cups uncooked brown basmati rice
2 teaspoons turmeric
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 tart apple, diced and tossed with lemon juice
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Curried Apricot Dressing
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup water

1. In a medium saucepan, heat the water or stock over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until just softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the cumin, fennel seed, pepper, and salt. Saute for 1 minute.
3. Add the rice and stir constantly for 2 minutes or until the rice smells fragrant.
4. Add the turmeric and the 3 1/2 cups vegetable stock. bring to boil and cover.
5. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 40-45 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
6. Meanwhile, to make the dressing combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
7. After step 5 is done, remove the pan from heat and add the carrots, apple, and scallions. Stir so everything is all mixed in and then transfer to a large serving bowl.
8. Pour most of the dressing onto the rice and mix thoroughly. Taste and add the rest of the dressing, if desired, or reserve for another use. Serve, savor, and enjoy!

Source: This is based on a recipe from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s “Color Me Vegan”. (Her recipe calls for saffron, which I had planned to use but forgot to purchase. I used turmeric instead and we loved how it turned out so I’ll continue to make this dish with turmeric in the future. I also omitted the oil.) 

Entrees, Gluten-Free, Oil-Free, Plant Proteins, Sauces & Dips

Dillon Panthers Team BBQ Tofu


     We recently completed the first four seasons of Friday Night Lights in less than a month and now the imaginary people of Dillon, Texas hold a big place in our hearts. If Tim Riggins had more sense he’d probably eat this sweet BBQ sauce on his tofu all the time.

BBQ Sauce:
1 tablespoon vegetable broth or water
1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz) can tomato paste
2/3 cup blackstrap molasses
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 pound tofu, drained and pressed, cut widthwise into eighths
1 tablespoon reduced- sodium soy sauce or tamari
Ground pepper

1. Preheat a saucepan over medium heat. Place the onions in the pan and saute in broth until browned (5-7 minutes).
2. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.
3. Add all the other ingredients except the mustard and liquid smoke. Cook for 1 hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally. If the sauce starts to splatter, lower the heat.
4. Add the mustard and the liquid smoke, and taste for sweetness/sourness. Adjust if necessary, and cook for another 5 minutes.*
5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place tofu slices in a 9×18-inch (preferably glass or ceramic) baking pan. Drizzle with soy sauce and pepper, then flip the slices and do the same to the other side.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the slices and bake for another 15 minutes.
7. Remove from the oven and smother the slices with the BBQ sauce. Really let yourself go wild and lay it on thick! Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and serve.
(*Steps 1-4 can be done days in advance if you want. Just store the sauce in the fridge. Makes about 2 cups.)

Source: Inspired by recipes in “Veganomicon”