Being a vegetarian for more than eleven years, people are always asking me...BUT WHAT DO YOU EAT? Hopefully this blog will give readers some insight into the world of vegetarianism, and inspire those teetering but afraid of lack of food choices, to take that final step.

Friday, February 17, 2012

What did YOU have for breakfast this morning?

The past few days...I've been having this for breakfast.
How do you make this? This is a really well-balanced and nutritious breakfast to give you a lot of energy to start the day.
-1 cup of O's like Cherios or Traders Joe O's
-1/2 cup of Bob's Red Mill Granola-Apple/Blueberry
-4 strawberries, chopped
-1 kiwi, chopped
-handful of blueberries or bananas, chopped
-1 tbsp of toasted almond slices
-1 tbsp Shiloh Farms shredded organic unsweetened coconut
-Pacific unsweetened organic almond milk

I am new to almond milk, and wanted to give it a try since my cousin Daria McDermott raves about drinking it in her coffee, frothed with a touch of cinnamon. I really love this in my cereal, but not so much in my coffee. I need to try frothing it because it naturally separates when you put it in the coffee.

I also got a lovely round semolina bread from the Parisi Bakery in Astoria, NY with sesame seeds, and I have been eating slices of this for breakfast with Italian Alce Nero Organic Cherry Fruit Spread. It has no pectin or high fructose corn syrup- just pure fruit.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chiles en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada is a Mexican dish from the state of Puebla. It is a patriotic dish, because it has the colors of the Mexican flag. This dish is beautiful to look at, but is also very tasty. The flavors here are different, both savory and sweet.  It is traditionally made with pork shoulder, but this is a vegetarian version. It is usually made in late August or early September and often contains peaches and pears.

You will need to start out with four fresh poblano chiles.  Choose firm and large chiles with nice stems still intact. You will need to char the chiles over a gas stove.  Blister all of the skin until it turns black by turning them directly on the burner.  I would suggest buying six chiles, in case some don't turn out as good, or they rip in the process of cleaning them out.

Have a large bowl ready and covered with plastic wrap.  As you blister each of the chiles, add them to the bowl and keep covering it until all are finished.  Leave them in the bowl for about 15 minutes and then uncover and rub the skins off until all skins are removed. Carefully cut a slit in the side (not too large) and remove and seeds and other membranes.  Be careful not to puncture through to the other side.  Rinse chiles and place back into the bowl and cover with water and a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.  Leave for 15 minutes.  This will add flavor and make the chiles not as spicy. Rinse and pat dry.

You can prepare the poblano chiles the day before. You will also need to prepare the walnuts for the sauce the night before. Take the walnuts and place into a bowl with enough milk to cover them. Cover and leave over night. You can also cook the quinoa the day before and/or make the entire filling the day before.

1/2 of a large ripe plantain, chopped
1/2 cup chopped green apple, skin removed
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
3 white button mushrooms, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
1 can of Goya tomato sauce
2 tbsp of butter (earth balance)
1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup of crumbled queso fresco

Pomegranate seeds
Parsley (chopped very fine)

In a large frying pan, toast the pine nuts until golden, being careful not to burn them. Remove from pan and place in a bowl. Next, add some olive oil to the pan and add onion until translucent, then add the butter and mushrooms.  Cook until mushroom start to brown. Don't stir too much. Next add the plantains and the apples and cook until soft.  Add a bit more oil if it looks dry. Once the vegetables are almost all cooked, add the tomato sauce and cook fora few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients, except the pine nuts. Cook on low heat for a few more minutes, then stir in the pine nuts and the queso fresco.

1/2 tsp sugar
sprinkle of salt
1 cup of queso fresco, crumbled
1 1/2 cup of walnuts (prepare the night before)
1 cup of milk

Take the walnuts that have been in the refrigerator over night, covered in milk and pour the milk out. Add all ingredients to a blender and blend. You want it to be smooth and creamy but still have very small walnut chunks.

Putting it together:
Stuff each chile with the filling and cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 to 15 minutes, just until heated through. Gently heat walnut sauce in a pot until just warm but not boiling hot. Place stuffed poblano chile with the seam side down on a plate and cover with the walnut sauce. Garnish with pomegranate seeds and finely chopped parsley.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kale. It's Delicious, Nutritious, and I'm Obsessed with it.

I might be addicted to kale. Considering it is so good for you, who can complain? It has a ridiculous amount of vitamin K, and also has really high amounts of vitamin A and C. Kale also gives you calcium and iron among other things. Here are three ways to eat it...

Kale Caesar Salad
Why not use kale instead of romaine lettuce? Chop up some thin strips of washed kale, removing the tough stems. Add your favorite caesar dressing (I've been using Trader Joe's), some croutons, parmesan cheese, freshly ground pepper, and some pumpkin seeds.  If you want the kale to be a little softer, you can mix the kale with dressing and let it sit for 15 minutes or so before you add the other ingredients.

Massaged Kale Salad
Cut and wash your kale and remove any tough stems. Place into a bowl with a bit of olive oil and some salt. I used this delicious citrus salt that my Aunt Dale made for Christmas. Massage the olive oil and salt into the kale for a minute or so (this is also great for your skin!).  Next add some chopped apples, dried cranberries, and toasted almond slices. Add a bit of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice.  You can add anything in this salad, sometimes I also add chopped green olives, cucumbers, radishes, and cooked lentils.  If you want to make it into a meal you can add some cooked quinoa.  Adjust the seasonings to your liking.  This will stay good in the refrigerator for a few days. Sorry I don't have a picture of this.

Sauteed Kale with Mushrooms
In a frying pan heat up a teaspoon of olive oil and some red pepper flakes.  When the oil is hot, add about 4 sliced white button mushrooms (by the way, never ever wash mushrooms, just wipe with a damp cloth before slicing) and a tablespoon of earth balance natural buttery spread.  Cook mushrooms until they start to turn a beautiful brown color. Don't stir mushrooms the whole time!!!!!! You only need to stir them once or twice, otherwise they will not cook properly.  Next add two huge handfuls of cleaned chopped kale with tough stems removed.  Add another tablespoon of earth balance or some more olive oil, a shake of salt, garlic powder, and freshly ground pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes until just tender and stirring occasionally.

Coming soon.....Penne with Kale and Butternut Squash!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Snack Time!

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season! New York is looking festive and beautiful as always during this time. I can't wait to go see the tree at Rockafeller Center and bake some cookies this weekend.  Nothing like a little snack to hold you over! Cheddar cheese from The Laughing Cow, Kashi Seven Grain Crackers, Sabra Hummus, and delicious marinated spicy lives with hot peppers from the Euro Market in Astoria.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vegetarian Pho

Pho (pronounced fuh) is a common dish in Vietnamese cooking.  It is a delicious soup, but often very difficult to get without beef broth.  Just check out this video of Anthony Bourdain and how delighted he is with eating Pho.  You can imagine how happy I was when last week at Whole Foods I saw this:

As far as broths go, Pacific is not my "go to" brand.  I find that their soups and broths have a pretty strong onion flavor and are a bit too rich.  However, I couldn't pass up a vegetarian Pho soup base that was even organic. I gave it a try and it was pretty good.  You'll need:
- 2 cups of Pacific Organice Soup Starter Vegetarian Pho Soup Base
- 1 handful of rice noodles
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- A generous handful of a mix of Thai basil, mint, and cilantro
- 1/2 tsp. of chile garlic paste
- Chopped vegetables like sliced mushrooms, bean sprouts, and scallion
- Lime wedges

Boil water and cook rice noodles for about 2 minutes. Don't overcook! Strain and set aside to cool. 

Prepare the carrots and wash and chop the herbs. 

Place carrots, chili paste, and broth in a pot until it comes comes to a boil.  Skim any foam from the carrots.  Remove from heat and pour over a bowl you have prepared that is filled with the rice noodles and vegetables (I didn't have the mushrooms and bean sprouts).  Top with the herbs and a squeezed wedge of lime.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Most store-bought applesauce has tons of sugar and/or corn syrup in it. It is always best to buy non-sweetened and add your own cinnamon and sugar if you like.  I even like to heat it up with dried cranberries or cherries.  They get nice and plump and warm when you heat up the applesauce.

Even better is making your own applesauce.  I had some leftover apples from when I went apple picking.  The apples weren't as crisp as when I picked them, but I didn't want them to go to waste.  Perfect time to make applesauce! It is so easy, delicious, and good for you that I don't know why I don't make it more often.

Sorry I don't have exact measurements...

I added about a half a cup of apple cider and around four peeled and chopped apples to a pot. 

Turn the heat on medium heat and add a few shakes of cinnamon and a tiny bit of sugar.  You won't need to much sugar because the apples and the applesauce are sweet on their own, and the cinnamon cuts the need for too much sugar.  You could add agave nectar instead if you like.  Let this cook until it starts to boil pretty hard, then lower it to low heat and partially cover with a lid.  You can add more apple cider if it looks dry.  Let the apples cook until they are tender, then with a potato masher, mash up the apples.

This is so delicious and easy! It takes no time and can be eaten in the morning, with a meal such as pierogies and fried onions, or as a late night healthy snack that is filling.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cranberry Sauce

Every Thanksgiving, my Aunt Rae cooks up an amazing meal to a packed house of family and always a few friends.  She cooks and prepares virtually every single thing that goes on that table from scratch.  It is a delicious meal and transitions from antipasto, to stuffed mushrooms, to artichoke pie, to the main meal of turkey and about 9 vegetable dishes, and then down to dessert, she always makes an assortment of pies.  The only two things that are allowed outside of what she prepares are the cranberry sauce (made by me) and the apple pies (made by my mom).

People who don't eat meat don't understand how vegetarians can enjoy Thanksgiving. They equate turkey with Thanksgiving.  But really, there are so many things to eat, the turkey is a small portion of what actually goes into your belly.  Thanksgiving has been a particularly important tradition and holiday in my family, going all the way back to my grandfather, who was a butcher and chef. My Aunt Rae has taken over his role and makes the meal just as my grandfather would have.

Thanksgiving is about eating.  That eating is what nourishes the togetherness and the cultivates the conversations that take place all day (well, the wine also helps). That's what Thanksgiving is really about.  Being thankful for loved ones, and always remembering those who have passed, reminding you to be thankful for the ones who are still there.

I have been making this cranberry sauce for years, I can't remember how far back.  The recipe has never been told before.  I hope you and your loved ones also enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving.

- 2 12oz. Bags of whole fresh cranberries
- 2 Apples (preferably McIntosh, because they just melt into the sauce)
- 2 Navel oranges
- 1 Cup of cold water
- 1 Cup of orange juice
- 2 1/3 Cups of sugar (preferably vegan)
- 1/2 Tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/2 Tsp of ground cinnamon

First wash the cranberries in a strainer and take out any of rotten ones and remove any leftover stems.

Then cut some of the zest of the oranges off with a vegetable peeler.  Try not to get much of the white part, because that will make it bitter. 

Now remove the rest of the orange peel by cutting off both ends of the orange and using a knife, slice of the peel and all white parts off.  Save the peels on the side! 

Chop the orange into small pieces and place with the cranberries and orange zest in a bowl.  Next, peel both apples and chop into small pieces.  I unfortunately had to use Gala apples this time and the apples didn't cook into the sauce as well as they do with the McIntosh.  Set apples with the cranberries and oranges. While your dog stares at you because she loves apples, try not to give her too many, because you don't want to mess up the recipe.

Into a dutch oven or large pot, add the sugar, orange juice, and water.  Squeeze all of the juice out of the orange peels/ends that you cut off into the pot and any juice from the cutting board.  Throw out the orange peels.  Let this come to a boil while stirring a few times.  Make sure all of the sugar has dissolved.

Now add the bowl of cranberries, apples, oranges, and orange zest.  Stir and allow to come to a boil.  You will want to simmer this on low until the cranberries have popped and the apples are cooked (about 15-20 minutes).  Right before the sauce is done, add the vanilla and cinnamon and stir.  Turn off the heat.  This will continue to cook for a while, so stir it every so often until it cools down and you can add it to containers to be refrigerated.  Remove the orange zest and discard.