Thursday, January 30, 2014

Day 4: Fresh Juice Fast

Hubby and I are on our fourth day of fresh juice fasting.  Overall it has gone very well.  The first two days were the most difficult.  I had a bit of a headache Monday, that lasted throughout Tuesday morning, which was sucky.  I think it may have had to due with exercising while fasting - Hubbs is a maniac when it comes to that.  So we've decided to lay off the exercising while doing the fast, or at least keep it to a minimum.  I've been spending a lot of time with that juicer and blender, which is good.  It's been months since I've really juiced so much.  I used to juice back home in Brooklyn all the time.  When I finish with this fast, I'd definitely like to continue with the juicing - I've forgotten how great it is. 

I've taken some pictures of the juices, but not a ton, because the first few days I didn't have a lot of energy.  I also was so sure going into it that I would save the pulp for something and reuse it.  All of that pulp going into the compost bin makes me crazy.  And we're talking about a lot of pulp!  We've been making on average 1-1 1/2 gallons of fresh juice per day!  But the reality of using it all when there are gallons of it is a bit crazy and unrealistic.  I did, however, save most of the green pulp (from kale and spinach) and dehydrate it.  When I'm done, I'm going to grind it in the food processor and use it to add to smoothies or other dishes for some additional fiber and nutrition.  It's gonna look crazy on the shelf with all of my spices! 

Another thing I've noticed today is that my hunger is mostly gone, which is a relief, believe me!  The past three days have revolved around me thinking about food, hungering for it and just basically desiring it every second of each day.  When I didn't think about it for 5 minutes, I was ecstatic!  But I feel like I can go so much longer without even thinking about it right now.  And not having to worry about cooking every day and having a complete meal ready for when the Hubby comes home from work is such a great treat.  But I know it will likely begin again next week, just differently.  The main reason for me doing this is to rethink the way I think about food.  I definitely have my problems with it that I need to fix and would just love to eat so much healthier and feel better about myself.  I'm hoping that by doing this fast I will be able to focus more on eating good for me stuff and not junk.  I realize this is not something that is going to change overnight and that I will occasionally slip up, but I'm at a point where I really want to change.  My husband and I want to open our business within the next year and hopefully a year after that, start our family.  And I definitely want to be the healthiest I can while expecting.  A lot of pressure riding on me, but I feel very positive about it right now.  And now enjoy some pictures and recipes of some of the juices I've been making over the last coupld days!

Before juicing: Grapefruit Green (the greens wouldn't fit
in the bowl - they were in the sink)

Finished Grapefruit Green Juice

Green Grapefruit:

Yields: 2 Quarts

6 grapefruit, peeled
6 small apples, quartered
2" ginger
1 English or 2 regular cucumbers
6 stalks celery (wash very well - I found a slug in my organic celery!)
8 oz. spinach
1/2 - 1 bunch kale

Koko's V-8 Juice, but so much better!

 Koko's V-8:

Yields 2 1/2 Pints

6 stalks celery
2 jalapenos
2 lb. tomatoes, quartered
3/4 lb. carrots
1 red pepper, seeded
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 English or 2 regular cucumbers
8 oz. spinach
(can also add 1/2 bunch cilantro - makes it taste like you're drinking salsa!)

Fresh pineapples for juicing!

Heartbeet Juice before juicing - there are oranges, lemons and
ginger under there and spinach in the sink


Yields: 1 1/2 Quarts

3 lb. carrots
1 1/2 lb. beets
6 small apples
4 oranges, peeled
2 lemons, peeled
2" ginger
8 oz. spinach

The finished juices: V-8, Heartbeet, Pineapple (and that's 2 small pineapples!)



Monday, January 27, 2014

Spinach Pie with Parsley & Artichoke Pasta

My hubby and I have decided to go on a 7-day juice fast.  In the middle of this freezing cold winter.  It seemed like a good idea a week ago when temperatures were warmer.  Our fridge is completely filled with fresh fruits and veggies, awaiting being juiced.  Even though we have officially gotten started on our cleanse today, I figured I would post a recipe I made last week.  Drool over the pictures and the memory a little bit.  I think we usually eat pretty well, although generally too many carbs - but we definitely will do well with a cleanse, especially after the holidays.  Enjoy this recipe and hopefully I'll post some pretty juice pictures and recipes in the next week or so, depending on how I feel.  I've been told by day three I'll be super cranky, but I'm going to be optimistic and think that each day will be great!

The spinach pie served with a simple parsley, artichoke pasta.

1 10 oz. box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed mostly dry
mock vegan feta cheese
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, small diced
sea salt and black pepper to taste
couple pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 package silken tofu, blended
Filo dough
4 oz. earth balance, melted
1.  Place the thawed spinach and and handful of crumbled vegan feta in a large mixing bowl.  Set aside.
2.  Place a saute pan over medium heat and allow it to become hot.  Once it is hot, add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until both have cooked through.  Season with a small amount of sea salt and black pepper.  Add into the bowl with the spinach and feta.
3.  Place half of the package of silken tofu into the bowl of a blender and blend until completely smooth.  Add to the mixture in the bowl, plus additional sea salt and black pepper.  Season to taste.
4.  Oil an 8"x8" baking pan with the melted earth balance.
5.  Take several sheets of the filo dough out of the package, together.  Brush the top sheet generously with the earth balance, fold in half, and place in the bottom of the pan.
6.  Place the seasoned spinach mixture on top of the filo, pressing firmly down.
7.  Take another 4-6 sheets, brush generously with the earth balance, carefully turn over, and brush the other side.  Fold in half and place firmly overtop of the spinach.
8.  Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and cook for about 35-40 minutes, or until the spinach mixture is holding together and the top sheet of phyllo is nicely browned. 
9.  Allow it to cool for several minutes before serving, or it will not hold together.

The top is nicely browned!

Simple, tasty filling.  Yum!



Sunday, January 19, 2014

Millet with Kale, Mushroom Gravy and Beet Salad

I love the website Oh She Glows.  I follow it quite religiously and am always so impressed how Angela Liddon makes all of the food just look so amazing and healthy.  Pretty much every picture I see, I say to myself "I am so going to make this!"  The reality, of course is that I have so many recipes that I just have to make, and trying as of this point to keep to a budget, but still eat healthfully, is challenging, and I can't make every dish if I don't have the ingredients at home.  I think most of the ingredients in this dish people with a well stocked fridge and pantry should pretty much have on hand at all times.  This is one that seemed pretty easy to make, healthy, but also very much a "comfort food" item.  Sometimes the hubby can be finicky about creamy sauces and gravies, but I thought this would be great.  He ended up loving it, but didn't want to take it to lunch the next day, because in his words it was too light for a hardworking, strong man like him.  Insert good-humerdly crossing of the eyes here.  It ended up being a bonus for me because I ended up taking it for my lunch and was very satisfied!  Try making it and go over and take a look at what Angela ended up doing for the same dish over at Oh She Glows.  I didn't follow her recipe exactly, but used it as a guideline to make my own dish.

Super Comfort-Foody and Delicious!


Yields: 2 1/2 cups

2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, small diced
4 oz. criminis, small diced
4 tablespoons unbleached flour
2 cups filtered water
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed with the fingers
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon tamari
1/4 teaspoon unchicken boullion

Garlic Kale:
12 cups kale, blanched
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt and black pepper

1 1/2 cups millet, rinsed
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups filtered water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1.  Cook the millet in the oil until toasted and most of the water has evaporated.  Add the filtered water and sea salt.  Bring the millet to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook till the water has absorbed and the millet is fluffy,
2.  Prepare the gravy:Add the oil over medium heat.  Once it is hot, add the onion, criminis and garlic, stirring frequently until they begin to color.  Add the unbleached flour and stir well to coat. 
3.  Allow the flour to cook for a couple minutes so that the raw flour taste goes away.  Add the water all at once, whisking immediately so the gravy does not clump.
4.  Add the remaining in gredients to the gravy: the sea salt, black pepper, thyme, nutritional yeast, tamari and unchicken boullion.  Whisk well to combine all the ingredients.  Continue cooking till the gravy has thickened to your liking.  Season to taste.
5.  Prepare the garlic kale:  blanch the kale just until it turns a bright green color - about 30 seconds.  Drain.
6.  In a small pan over medium heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil until it becomes golden and cooked through.  Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
7.  To serve, place a mound of the millet on the plate, followed by a generous serving of kale, then top it all off with gravy.  Healthy comfort food at its best!

The millet mixed with the garlic kale.

The plate before adding the gravy.  Yum!



Monday, January 13, 2014

Pasta Veggie Saute with Cherry Tomatoes

I am always on the hunt for a deal.  Even when I am shopping and not necessarily intending to purchase something.  Our local coop here in Michigan - Oryana - is great!  They have this really cool thing where when a product is close-dated or maybe a little bruised, they slap a half-off sticker on it and you get something healthy and organic (most of the time!) for a great deal.  Recently I have scored several fake meat items that I just stick in the freezer for a time when I don't really feel like cooking. 
The last time I was there, there was a bunch of stuff from the produce department that had half off stickers on them (all being organic): cauliflower, mixed greens, a couple packages of beautiful cherry tomatoes, a bag of apples and a bag of carrots that was ripped open.  Great score!  So I had a couple packages of cherry tomatoes sitting in the fridge for a couple days and decided to make a simple pasta dish  that came together quickly.  It also came out looking beautiful.  Hubby had two giant plates of it, which he of course immediatley sprinkled with cheese.  I ended up roasting the cauliflower with winter squash, juicing the apples and some of the carrots (then making muffins from the pulp), making a giant mixed green tossed salad with the greens and a pasta salad with the rest of the cherry tomatoes.  So good!

The pasta and veggies after cooking.

Pasta Veggie Saute:
8 oz. spiral pasta
8 oz. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 green bell pepper, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 red onion, julienned
6 pieces tempeh bacon, cooked and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetarian mock chicken boullion powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Some nice veggie cheese to melt on top.  Yum!



Thursday, January 9, 2014

Massive Last Order at Vegan Divas

One of the interesting places I worked while in NY was a place called Vegan Divas.  I was the Executive Pastry Chef there for about a year.  I left the position to work more full-time with a family as their Private Chef.  It was a great time in my career and I certainly learned a lot through the process.  This is one of the last big orders I did before I left the company - all with only one employee besides myself - definitely a huge accomplishment!  Hope you enjoy the pictures as I enjoy the memories of tons of hard work and pride!  (And everything vegan!)

Tons of individual packages of Chocolate Mousse

All the baked goods packaged and ready to go.

Apple Scones

More Chocolate Mousse and Trays of Brownies

All the ingredients needed to make the huge order.

PB&J Scones

Portioning out Macaroons

More Portioning

Two different kinds of scones

Huge bowl of macaroon filling

And more and more portioning

The finished trays of baked brownies

The finished trays of brownies and macaroons

The last of the huge order



Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Good Ole Days: Summer in Prospect Park with our NY Family

Perhaps this isn't the best way to spend the new year, but I have been feeling very homesick for NY lately.  Among my "not-resolutions" is to become more organized and on top of things.  So I have been going through my stock of old recipes and pictures and trying to organize blog posts that I may have started before and never finished.  This is one of them, and I figured it would be the perfect time to post it, to remind myself and others out there that Spring and Summer do actually exist and they may eventually be here!

I've had quite a bit of free time lately and have been watching shows based in NY, heard the street names I would visit all the time and see places that would remind me of great places I've seen and great things I've done.  I think this terrible cold weather that has left me stranded inside for several days has not helped me feel so, sort of sad and missing NY.  The really funny thing is that when I really think about it, life was not perfect there - in fact, there were so many things that I thought were terrible and unlivable while I was there.  But now they don't seem so bad and I find myself wishing we had waited maybe a couple more years to move away.  But the fact that Hubbs and I want to open our own business here in our new city is what is keeping me chugging along.  Until that time, I've got to focus on the business and reorganizing everything and staying more on top of things.  So, in this terrible cold weather, you can enjoy these lovely pictures of grilling in Brooklyn in the middle of a hot, hot summer.  It definitely made me smile and feel a little warmer and more optimistic!

Veggie Dog with all the toppings, Greek Lentil Salad, Chippies

Greek Lentil Salad

Veggie Dogs
Hot Dog Buns
Chopped Onions
Ketchup, Mustard, Hot Sauce
Seasoned Baked Tortilla Chips

1.  Make salad and let it chill for a couple hours.
2.  Gill veggie dogs on grill until heated through.  Place in bun and top with everything - ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, onions.  If I had thought to bring sauerkraut, I would have topped the dog with that too!
3.  Place helpings of each item on your plate and eat!  And enjoy the sunshine! (Or pretend it's sunny out!)

Veggie Dogs Grilling - They look so Lonely!

Hubby & His Giant Cousin Grilling their non-vegan Chicken
(This is before the Hubby became vegetarian.)

Hubbs & I & our delicious picnic food in the middle of the
beautiful summer!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as I did!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Vegan Chicken & Broccoli


 Happy New Year!

Hubby & I last night in a beautiful condo my mom
surprised us with for the night.  Fun!

I hope everyone had a great New Year's and is as excited as I am about this coming new year.  2013 was a very bittersweet year for me - one of the most difficult I have been through in recent years, but I know it has and will continue to make me grow into a better person.  I came to some interesting realizations about myself and have just really been forced to become stronger.  I have so many goals for this coming year, but unlike many New Year's past, I have not written them down or described them as "New Year's Resolutions".  So perhaps here is a good opportunity to write them down so I can remember them later, although I will not be going as crazy about them this year as I usually do.
  • Focus on bettering my Spanish - hopefully I will be able to have more of a complete conversation with my mother-in-law by the end of the year

  • Eat more cleanly - less snacking - that's my problem.  And use up a lot of the pantry items I brought back from Brooklyn with us- make more food items out of what we have - not going out and buying new things every time I decide to cook something

  • Be more open to trying new things that usually make me uncomfortable: singing in front of others, dancing, saying "ok, sure, let's do it", rather than "uh ..."

  • Focus on being healthy - yes exercise more, but not letting "weight loss" be the main focus

  • Work on our business

What are some things you guys are wanting to do differently this year?  They don't have to be resolutions per se, just some things you want to focus more on. 

Going along with my concept of eating well and using the ingredients I have on hand (not too many fresh ingredients left - definitely have to go shopping!) I decided on this vegan chicken and broccoli that I served with brown rice.  So delicious and simple enough to make on this day of feeling tired after not getting much sleep last night.


Serves 4
Steamed Brown Rice, to serve
Vegan Chicken and Broccoli:
1 8 oz. pkg. vegan chicken, thawed
1 1/2 tablespoons untoasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic, about 2 large cloves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cups broccoli florets (I used the stems too, just peeled them first)
6 tablespoons unchicken broth, separated
1 tablespoon sesame oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste
5 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup organic hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons mushroom oyster sauce
Sesame seeds, for garnish
1.  Place a wok over medium-high heat and add the 1 ½ tablespoons of sesame oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and dried red pepper flakes.  Stir fry for 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Add the broccoli florets (and stems if you would like) and 4 tablespoons of the unchicken broth. Stir fry broccoli for 2 minutes, or until desired doneness is achieved.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
2.  Add a little more sesame oil to the wok (about 1 tablespoon).  Add the thawed out chicken to the wok and cook just until heated through, and slightly browned if desired (keep in mind that this chicken is fully cooked and could even be eaten as is, although I wouldn't recommend that!).
3.  Add in remaining 2 tablespoons of unchicken broth, oyster mushrooms sauce, and hoisin sauce.  Add the cooked broccoli back into the pan and move around just until the mixture is heated through.
4.  Serve over top of the steamed brown rice.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.