Did You Know?

Did you know??
Although using avocados and bananas are all the buzz now to get soft and shiny hair, all it will get you is a messy kitchen and bathroom. These products are great to help your hair for one day, but the proteins in them are way too big for your hair to absorb. And unless you are going to use them each day (yikes!), then you should head to a beauty supply store and check out some Vegan products that use "hydrolyzed" proteins - proteins from avocados and bananas that actually are small enough to help your hair.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cucumber Avocado Guacamole


Since we've had awesome sales on avocados, we've been packing them into our diet in any way possible.  And while the fats of them are fantastic for your body, that doesn't mean we need to eat 2 avocados a day.  To lighten this up, we did a little research on ways to use avocados, and saw a few recipes that substituted things like broccoli into quacamole to reduce the amount of avocado used, and therefore lessen up the fat content.  We took it a step further-- cucumbers.  Although my favorite way to eat a cucumber is simply with a little bit of salt while I munch down on it, this works pretty well for me.  This is also a great game-time healthy dip as opposed to the typical dips people have on Sundays.  It's that time of year when everyone suddenly likes football because their team is in the playoffs and/or superbowl, and this allows you to keep your waistline in check while screaming at the tv.

Side note: To be honest, I've never actually bought a cucumber-- I've only had them from the garden, and by the time winter rolls around, I'm sick of them till the next season.  Unfortunately for us, our garden's cucumber output was dismal at best this year, so I've been craving my cucumbers with salt and cucumber and tomato salads that usually define my summers.  Fortunately, we came up with this recipe.  I'm thinking that the cucumbers from the garden were a failure because I grew them in a pot too far off the ground-- I've always grown them in the ground, but at our new(ish) apartment, our gardening space isn't large, but we have a few mulch beds that allow me to have pots over them, but no plants in the ground.  It may have been from the horrible, short summer we had as well, but I don't want to lose another year of cucumbers because I was naive enough to think that the garden losses were simply because of the weather.  Thoughts or experiences?

1 large avocado, peeled and pitted
1 tbsp lime juice
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 medium-sized cucumber, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 grinds of fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cumin

Combine all in a blender and blend until smooth.  Place in the freezer immediately if you want it cold, as the shelf-life on fresh guacamole is short at best.

Caloric Info
Servings 4
Total Fat: 6.7 grams
Sat Fat: 0.9 grams
Polyunsat. Fat 0.8 grams
Monosat. Fat: 4.2 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 295.0 mg
Potassium: 274.4 mg
Carbs: 5.6 grams
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 grams
Sugar: 0.6 grams
Protein: 1.1 grams

Delicious Tofu Jerky


The first time we made vegan tofu jerky, we were shocked at how small the pieces were after they had shrunk.  Nervously, I took the first bite, half-expecting to be frustrated that I would never find a truly authentic-tasting home-made tofu jerky.  To my surprise the recipe that I had tried was fairly good.  Where that recipe came from, I have no idea, but it has been evolving over the past year or so into what hasbeen a fairly consistant snack in our house.  It's worth noting that if you leave it out, it well get eaten.  All of it.  As in a whole block of tofu-- in an hour.  Probably not the healthiest thing in the world, although good if you're an athlete as it packs in a lot of protein.  Yesterday at the gym I realized that we hadn't made this in a couple months, so while we're home today hibernating from the snow that's falling here in New England, what better time to slow-bake some tofu jerky.  It's a win-win, making food and heating the house!

It should be noted that the calorie count for this recipe is in all likelihood NOT accurate-- since the marinade isn't fully absorbed into the tofu, I can't guarantee which ingredients (or what percentage) were accurately absorbed.  Based on what was left on the baking sheet, I estimated the actual amounts.  

1 (14 ounce) package firm tofu, drained
6 tbsp soy sauce, low sodium
4 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 tbsp your favorite barbecue sauce (or you can make your own)
4 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp teriyaki marinade
Place tofu block between paper towels on a plate. Set another plate on top, and put a weight on top of the plate to press the water/juice out of the tofu, allowing it to absorb as much of the marinade as possible.

In a medium bowl, stir together all other ingredients until smooth.  Taste and adjust for personal preference here.

Slice tofu into 1/4 inch thick slices, leaving the length to your decision.  If you have trouble cutting tofu, feel free to cut them thicker but be aware this will lengthen cooking time.

Dip them in the sauce, coating them evenly.  Place in a container with a lid, and pour leftover marinade over the pieces, sealing them.  Place in the refridgerator, and marinate for a minimum of two hours (I would recommend leaving them in the fridge overnight if that's a possibility).

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  lay out a piece of parchment paper on a cooking tray.  Spray lightly with oil or another non-stick material, and place the tofu slices on the paper.  If there is any leftover sauce, brush it on the tofu.

Bake for 6-8 hours, depending on the thickness of the tofu slices.  Every two hours check on it and turn the slices over.

When the tofu is done, it will be hard and uniform in color.  allow to cool and store in the fridge.  Can be eaten hot or cold!

Caloric Info
Servings 6
Total Fat: 9.2 grams
Sat Fat: 1.3 grams
Polyunsat. Fat 3.2 grams
Monosat. Fat: 3.9 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 1,147.8 mg
Potassium: 347.2 mg
Carbs: 16.6 grams
Dietary Fiber: 3.4 grams
Sugar: 9.2 grams
Protein: 10.9 grams

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Creamy Soy-free, Dairy-Free Potato Soup


I came up with this creamy soy-free, dairy-free soup when attempting to make a low-fat vegan alfredo sauce.  The alfredo sauce was intended to have a cauliflower base (recently we tried to make a cauliflower pizza crust-- still trying to perfect that one!) in order to have a different type of alfredo sauce that is not based on soy milk or almond milk.  After a terrible fail and an attempt to save it, I realized that this would make a delicious base for a soup.  A few variations later, and I think I've got it.  This is a thick, rich soup and it is crucial to have a good blender or processer thatcan handle the puree this recipe requires.

1 head of cauliflower
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp chives
2 tsp basil
2 tbsp oregano
pinch of cayenne pepper
6 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 tbsp onion powder
4 cups vegetable broth
5 yukon potatoes

In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the garlic to pan.

As the garlic browns, break up the caulflower into smaller bits and skin and dice the potatos.

Once the garlic begins to brown, add the spices (sans nutritional yeast) and vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  At this point, bring another pot of water to a boil for the potatoes.

Once boiling, add the cauliflower and allow to boil for 10-15 minutes.  Chances are, not all of the cauliflower will fit in the broth, so use a wooden spoon to alternate pieces that are not submerged in the broth.  During this time, you can add the potatoes to the boiling water.

Once the cauliflower has softened (about 15 minutes, per instruction above), add the cauliflower and the broth to a food processor or blender (whichever you have/works best to puree) and blend to a puree.

Put the puree back in the saucepan and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the potatoes once soft (about 20 minutes), and adjust the seasoning to taste!

Caloric Info
Servings 10
Total Fat: 5.8 grams
Sat Fat: 0.8 grams
Polyunsat. Fat 2.0 grams
Monosat. Fat: 2.3 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 683.0 mg
Potassium: 797.0 mg
Carbs: 28.8 grams
Dietary Fiber: 5.6 grams
Sugar: 7.8 grams
Protein: 11.1 grams

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Navy Bean Tomato-Rice Soup


I love a hearty, thick tomato soup. As a kid, coming in from playing in the snow meant tomato soup and grilled cheese-- fortunately, I have Ashley to make my soup and grilled cheeses (vegan, of course!) when I come in from shoveling the snow.  This winter has been crazy without any snow (except for the dusting we received this morning), but that doesn't mean we can't have a nice tomato soup to sweep away the chill from our bones!  This tomato soup is thick and filled with brown rice, navy beans, onions, and garlic to fill you up even though you'll want another bowl.  A great pair with some home-made wheat bread and a movie.  It should be noted that this recipe makes a LOT!  Cut it in half if you don't want it for the next week.

4 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra-virgen olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, diced
2 (28 oz.) cans crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 cup long-grain brown rice
1 (15 oz.) can navy beans, drained and rinsed (fresh is better for this recipe, in which you would need 1 1/2 cups)
3 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried marjoram
1 tsp sea salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over medium-heat, add onions and garlic.  Saute for 5-7 minutes, until translucent.

Add celery, saute for another 2 minutes.

Add rice, bay pleaves, thyme, salt, marjoram, and peer and continue cooking over medium heat for another 2 minutes, stirring consistently.

Add crushed tomatoes, and fill one and a half of the cans up with water, stirring into the soup (42 ounces).

Bring to a boil and lower heat, simmering for 45 minutes.

When the rice is cooked, add the beans and continue providing low-medium heat to heat through.  Remove bay leaves and enjoy!

Caloric Info
Servings 10
Total Fat: 1.7 grams
Sat Fat: 0.2 grams
Polyunsat. Fat 0.3 grams
Monosat. Fat: 1.1 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 427.0 mg
Potassium: 160.3 mg
Carbs: 24.9 grams
Dietary Fiber: 6.4 grams
Sugar: 5.7 grams
Protein: 5.9 grams

Monday, January 9, 2012

Breakfast Tofu Scramble


Really, there isn't anything better than a simple "fry up" breakfast. But, it wasn't until recently that we trusted a tofu scramble to do this for us (we aren't really sure of the reason this even took so long for us to try.)

This makes a pretty small portion, so feel free to extrapolate for a bigger, hungrier crowd.

1 cup firm tofu, crumbled (about 1/4 - 1/2 of a typical "block" depending on your crumbles)
1/4 c white onion and green pepper, chopped
1/4 c broccoli
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (make sure you get a Vegan brand. Try your local Asian markets - the package will usually say right on the label)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Canola oil (for frying)
Vegan cheese, if desired

After crumbling your tofu, place in a bowl with the turmeric and nutritional yeast and set it aside while you chop your veggies.

Drizzle the oil in the frying pan, and get it nice and hot (you can test this by splashing a little water at the pan. If it sizzles when it hits the oil, it's hot enough). Sauteè the veggies for a moment, moving them around the pan to get them nice and caramelized. Add the tofu (it should be turning yellow, because of the spices), and add the lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce into the hot pan. You can add a bit of non-dairy butter to the pan too, if you like.

Toast a few pieces of wheat bread while the tofu cooks. Add in your salt and pepper, and brown the tofu and veggies. Add in any non-dairy cheeses if you like, and serve immediately with toast.

Caloric Info
Servings 2
Total Fat: 18.5 grams
Sat Fat: 2.2 grams
Polyunsat. Fat 8.3 grams
Monosat. Fat: 6.5 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 254.3 mg
Potassium: 582.9 mg
Carbs: 17.0 grams
Dietary Fiber: 5.8 grams
Sugar: 3.1 grams
Protein: 24.9 grams

Creamy Avocado Potato Salad


To take a page from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book (quite literally), we've started making a healthier potato salad for small side dishes. It was in Vegan Brunch when she proposed making it with avocados. Below is our take on her idea.

2-3 small yukon gold potatoes, peeled, chopped in to small pieces, boiled and cooled
1 small onion
1 very ripe avocado
3-4 tbsps lime juice
2 tsp silken tofu (or vegan sour cream)
1 stalk celery
1 small tomato (optional)
cumin, salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop your potatoes Boil them in slightly salted water for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Drain them, and set them aside to cool.

Chop the onion and celery stalk and set aside.

Run a sharp knife into the avocado from end to end, as though you are going to cut it in half. Instead, cut until you reach the pit, then slide your knife through the rest of the avocado, following the pit, through the rest of the avocado lengthwise (so you cut through the whole thing except the pit). Then, hold both sides, and twist from opposite directions - the avocado should come right apart, leaving the pit in one side. Scoop that out and throw it away.

Using a melon-baller, scoop the insides away from the skin, getting as close as you can without damaging the rind. Put the avocado insides in a mixing bowl, and add the lime juice. Let the avocado soak in the juice for a few minutes, so that the avocado can get soft.

Once it feels soft and is starting to look a bit creamier, use a fork to mash the avocado into a thick consistency (obviously, there will be a few whole pieces). From here, you can put the avocado in a blender or food processor if you wish, but it's not necessary if you don't mind a few avocado chucks here and there.

Mix in the cut-up celery, onion, and add the silken tofu (optional, for consistency. But, you can also use a bit of vegan sour cream, if you prefer) using the fork. Mash it all together until you are happy with the consistency, and then add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste.

Add the potatoes to your avocado mixture, and place the whole thing in the fridge for a few minutes. Then, use your avocado rind to serve in the small "dishes", as soon in the picture above.

Caloric Info
Servings 4
Total Fat: 9.5 grams
Sat Fat: 1.3 grams
Polyunsat. Fat 1.4 grams
Monosat. Fat: 5.8 grams
Cholesterol: 0 grams
Sodium: 15.0 mg
Potassium: 844.5 mg
Carbs: 24.4 grams
Dietary Fiber: 6.3 grams
Sugar: 2.5 grams
Protein: 4.9 grams