Monday, December 29, 2014

5 Questions for a Vegan- Elvis

"Let food be thy medicine"  This is what Elvis lives by.  His example and knowledge that he shares with not only his many social media followers, but a lifestyle that he shared with the most important woman to him; His mother.  His story of how he was able to transform her from a life filled with pills and medical issues to one that is vibrant, fun and full of life.  Please enjoy my five questions for Elvis.
1) How and when did you become vegan?
 Ooh! Long winded answer! LOL! It's been such a journey! Got a minute? I cannot speak on it without mentioning my relationship with vegetarianism. 

First intro to vegetarianism was from my lovely cousin who was about 15 years my senior, visiting for the summer when I was 10 in the summer of 1976! I was mesmerized by the way she seemed to dance in the kitchen, how she handled her food preparation, and her style as she cooked it. She would educate me with spiritual philosophy on how and what we were instructed by God to eat and why. Other than saying grace no one had ever shown me how to attach spiritual meaning to food before this and at age 10 it made sense! The feeling was natural and it felt the right thing to do! 

I took to it immediately and for a year was vegetarian. Managed through school too! I was already comfortable cooking in the kitchen. Her teaching was a great addition to what I knew! I  had a knack for spices thanks to following my greatest teacher of all time around in the kitchen, my mom! My cousin however, who followed Rasta Way at that time, enlightened me to spices and methods, and veggie ideas I had never known! My mom's background was southern influenced so there was no veggie paradise there! But kitchen ethics and seasonings, how to use appliances and hand held gadgets such as sifters, hand beaters, the electric mix master bowls, baking, frying, mom was my go to guru! Mad props to her today! My mom was as supportive as she could be and would buy me what I needed to fix but siblings lent no support at home and living in a house full of meat eaters, 3 older brothers, I didn't last. But the seed was planted forever! Fast forward.

There is no denying the power of plant healing! In fact, 1 year ago today (when I answered these interview questions on Dec 15th) I brought my mother from a facility to live with me and I did reinvent her! She has Alzheimer's Disease. Through detoxing her, placing her on a plant based diet, and unbeknownst to her pulling her away from anything lending to animal exploitation or harm to earth, she is transformed! All 8 meds she came home on a year ago are no more! In 11 days I weened her off everything! She's stable and the disease is not progressing! She's amazing! She's continually improving! From rehab in 2012 telling me, "She'll never walk again" and "Your mother is in the last stages of Alzheimer's" to her walking, dancing, and happy to be alive! One vegan meal at a time! Prior to her eating plant based, while in rehab I went in and defied her prognosis. I got her out of that wheelchair and made her walk! Once I brought her home I had full control of her diet and vegan she went!
Now, about me. In the mid latter 80's I was introduced to the concept of Vegan by a teen! Yes! You never know where your calling will be delivered from and by whom! He taught me about the Brazilian Rain forest destruction and why it was happening for the profit of cattle breeding and in one day I went vegan! Gave up all my animal clothes, products and as much as I knew them to be tainted, my hygiene products based on the information I had at that time. Looking back, my reasoning at that young age was out of anger. Although justified I think now in retrospect it may have been fueled by "I'll show you!" when it could have been "Let me show you?" I suppose there was a bit of both.  
I was exceptionally gifted in that I loved preparing my food which was a plus, and I was good at spices and herbs, understanding how to combine food to get complete proteins etc. There would be a whole world of knowledge I had yet to learn! 

Fast forward, I was in the microcosm of veganism. Couldn't quite see the forest for the trees. Back then there was little on factory farming as far as visuals inside these places, and global warming evidence, measures of ocean pollution, etc., the bigger macrocosm. Factory farming also wasn't nearly as gross and tragic as it has become. 

After 13 years of vegetarianism not including childhood, with 8+ of those years having been vegan, ironically I went backwards from vegan to lacto-ovo, vegetarian, then altogether dropped out. I digressed and spiraled into the abyss! 

I don't have the space here to go into the gray areas of details although I will say mental health issues, substance abuse issues, depression, and lack of self worth, and other deeper, personal woes not dealt with from childhood all wore hats in my dark directional curve. They caught up to me. When you cannot love or accept yourself as a result of having been abused as a child, never having worked any of that out and just blindly stumbling through life still hurting and pretending to be on top of the world, there is almost no way you can genuinely and on a healthy manner have compassion and love the world around you! I had a lot of work to do on myself and had no idea at the time how it was all interconnected and very relevant. 

So about the start of 1997 I began eating anything and everything and my weight, mental health, spiritual health all went bonkers! When vegans say they cannot understand how someone could go back to eating meat I can. I would like to hear from those who have gone back and forth to learn and to enlighten those who this happens to on a regular basis rather than ostracize and condemn them as I see so much of. Everybody's got a story and if we shut up and listen we might learn something from it to have for ourselves and share with others. This dark spell of trying to ignore what Was the truth would last almost 15 years! Smoking, drinking, harder substances, more depression, anxiety, and confusion. I must also add here that I allowed some of the hardcore extremist acquaintances and friends I had  get into my head enough with their self created dogmas. Add to that the pressures of how vegan was my veganism didn't help matters in my choice to remain true to veganism. Pure self destruction and a product of destruction of the outer self surrounding me. The planet.
This is why I am so empathetic to new vegans, vegetarians, and non vegs transitioning!. People become such passionate warriors that they forget to be compassionate. All I kept hearing from people I had met and allowed myself to be influenced or intimidated by even after all the years I had under my belt as vegan was things like, "You know those beans you're eating are dead food! You need to eat this way live this way and protesteth always!" Sort of a lot of the things I hear said today in pseudo hierarchy levels which there seems to be today instead of people accepting other people's processes without the puritan finger pointing, verbal thrashings, and prejudices from one category group in the human communal herbivore world to the next. So when I hear people with their own enforced ideology become angered at someone like myself without listening or caring to listen to the person's story when they say,  "I "was" vegan when.. and became vegan again" I sigh and accept that they are entitled to their opinion understanding it is just that, their opinion. I often read or see someone and it's usually the zealous vegan still in the 6 month to 3 year stretch so full of determination, vigor, and fire say, "You were never vegan if you went back to eating animals and wearing them!" There is a huge spectrum of gray within  individuals' situations. It isn't that black and white and a truly seasoned, mature, higher consciousness, less lower self, well balanced individual will not have the same view or conviction as that. And what really does it matter for anyway other than fanning egos of expectations?

Phew! Now, to answer your question, I am back with love, approaching 3 years vegan! With decades of knowledge and wisdom from my history.  Make no mistake. I did keep up with certain aspects of naturopathy in the plant world. And I did try like hell to climb back through that window in all that time. My hard won lesson let me know how much discipline I once had to have had because I just could not stay on the horse. I could get on but I'd fall off with all  the distractions in my world. 

Still discovering and getting rid of things that don't serve me well, one leather good at a time, one feather pillow at a time, sometimes two at a time. Ridding myself, my home free of  environment household products one  at a time as I learn better and when spirit moves me to take another beautiful step. It is a process! A journey, a way of evolving! It's a pace not a race and not a contest or competition for me to be the better vegan than the next person. That often can be the atmosphere and I am not interested in that. I am older, very much wiser, worked through many issues, triumphed over many demons, I have years clean and sober, worked out many things and I love myself today! I see the big picture now and I'm here to stay! No more hurting myself or merely existing in a selfish way with little or no regard for the life in the world around me! We are all in this sphere together!
All the wisdom I have collected on my tumultuous yet enlightening set of roads I've walked are serving me very well now which in fact, made my transition back to veganism an easy one once my spirit, heart and mind was finally in position to realign! I get the macrocosm now because I am it. We are it!
My intuition and healing gifts that were always with me, as a child are fully operable as a matured spirit! I have always been aware that I have something that may or may not be in everyone. So I pay it forward. Awakening people and inspiring and motivating them to seek out their higher self. I have never felt so free!  I have never felt so free! 

2) What is your favorite "go to" meal?
Ha! I can only pick one? Avocado with good curry seasoning, turmeric, onion powder, raw sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a diced tomato, and a splash of something salty be it Bragg's Aminos, Ume Vinegar, or pinch of a good salt, blended into brown rice, or in a wrap!

3) What product can you not live without? 

4) What was hard to give up to become vegan?
My ego. Non vegan foods weren't. 

5) What's your favorite vegan restaurant?
My kitchen or yours!

Follow Elvis on Facebook 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Who doesn't Love a Sandwich?

One night while sitting with the family my daughter decided to ask us a list of 50 questions.  These questions ranged from "What's your favorite color?" to "What is your favorite TV show?"  But the question that got us talking the longest was, "What's your favorite food?"  For me this answer can be different daily or even minute to minute but my husband's answer was a very surprising one to me, his answer, A sandwich. 

I have been married to this man for almost 20 years, I've cooked him some bad meals, some OK ones, some complicated ones and some super easy ones,  some he thought were awful and some he called "homeruns" so to hear him say a sandwich I was so surprised.

His explanation was very logical.  "Sandwiches are so versatile.  You can change the bread, do different spreads and you can put so many different things in them and best of all, they are filling."

Of course the husband is right again, sandwiches are amazing! Some of our favorites are the
 ATL ( Avocado, lettuce and tomato)

 My daughter likes to make Apple sandwiches by coring the apple and slicing it to be the bread then spreading peanut butter on the two pieces of apple"bread"  then sprinkling it with a little granola.

and a Banh'Mi' which is a Vietnamese street sandwich, the name means bread which refers to the baguette the sandwich is made on.  The original sandwich calls for pressed and marinated tofu and cilantro but if you know me you know, I always put my own spin on things so here is my version of a Banh'Mi'.

Vegan Banh'Mi'.
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon Sesame oil
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon Vegan sugar
1 1/4 cup matchstick cut carrots
1 1/4 cup matchstick cut daikon radish
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup Vegan mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
French baguette (or similar type bread)
4 Oz. baked Organic tofu ( I use Fresh Tofu Inc. brand)
One sliced jalapeno pepper ( remove seeds for less spice)

Cut tofu lengthwise into 6 equal slices.  Meanwhile, combine vinegar, 1/4 cup water, sugar, carrots and radish and let sit for at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance.  Add chopped basil.  In a small dish combine mayonnaise, Sriracha and sesame oil.  Whisk until smooth.  Spread mayonnaise over both sides of a cut baguette and layer tofu, Jalapeno,cucumber and carrot mixture in between.  Cut in half and enjoy.

Sandwiches are practical, easy to make and can be an expression of artist talents.  So everyone show us your favorite sandwich!  Send pictures to

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

5 Questions for a Vegan- Brown Vegan

What can I say about Monique aka Brown Vegan?  I found her on Instagram and love her approach to transitioning her family to a plant based lifestyle.  She isn't pushy or preachy but just makes great foods that her family chooses over meat based meals.  So when she asked to interview me about being Vegan for her podcast I was excited and flattered.  During this 45 minute discussion, she helped me to realize that I had a voice in helping people transitioning to plant based eating and this blog was started as part of that conversation. Here are my 5 Questions for a Vegan- Brown Vegan.

1) How and when did you become Vegan?  "I became Vegan in 2010 after reading the book, Sistah Vegan by Breeze Harper"

2) What is your favorite "go to" meal?  "My favorite go-to meal is stir fry with rice.  I love that there are endless combinations of vegetables that I can sauté for a fast and delicious meal.  I usually throw together bell peppers, onions, garlic and vegan sausage for a quick lunch."

3) What product can you not live without?  "Canned beans!  They save so much time and I can use them in anything from tacos to soups."  Here's a recipe from her website for Rice and Beans

4) What was hard to give up to become vegan?  "Crab cakes!  Actually Seafood overall was a challenge for me". Monique's recipe for vegan crab cakes are so good you won't miss the crab meat.

5) What's your favorite Vegan restaurant?  "Great Sage in Clarksville, Maryland."

Thank you Monique for inspiring others to go Vegan and me to stop talking and start doing. 

Like what you read here? Share it!  Want more ideas on vegan meals or to see what I'm eating follow me on Instagram and like my page on Facebook.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Whatcha Eat Today-What Happened to my Healthy Habits?

"By writing down what I ate this week, I can really see how bad my diet is, there was a time not too long ago where I wasn't eating any of this mess. I want and need to get back to that."
This is a quote from our next Whatcha' Eat Today journal keeper.  This busy wife and mother is in a cycle that many of us get stuck in - trying to eat healthy and falling back into bad habits.

Day 1
Breakfast -  Chocolate Cheerios w/ 1% milk.
Lunch - Nothing
Dinner - Mashed potatoes, gravy, Turkey Meatloaf, Sweet Potatoes, String Beans. Pepsi

Day 2
Breakfast - Chocolate Cheerios w/ 1% milk
Lunch - Nothing
Dinner - Leftovers from Sunday - Ginger ale

Day 3
Breakfast - French Toast - Water
Lunch - Taco bowl with chicken, beef, grilled veggies, rice, sour cream - Water
Dinner - French Toast , Chamomile Tea

Day 4
Breakfast - Cinnamon Raisin Bagel, Peppermint Tea
Lunch - Hot Dog, Fries, Iced tea
Dinner - Burger, onion rings, ginger ale

Day 5
Breakfast - Cereal
Lunch - Half cheesesteak, Water
Dinner - Shrimp n Broccoli
Wine - Water

First let's get rid of the sodas.  I'm sure you know how unhealthy they are so I won't beat you over the head with it so instead, check here for a previous post for suggestions on what to drink instead of soda. Next bulk up your breakfast with fruit, try adding berries or bananas to your cereal for more fiber and some nutrients that will make you feel fuller longer.  Now let's move on to the skipping meals and making healthier choices.  You have a tough crowd to please, living in a house with two growing sons and a husband can make it a challenge to eat healthy foods and have everyone feeling satisfied    So what's the solution?  Soup.  It's sounds simple enough but a big hearty pot of soup will do two things for you.  1) provide you with food for days and 2) by adding beans and greens to the soup will get healthy stuff back into your diet.   Try my Escarole and White Bean Soup recipe or this Minestrone soup that will have you guys walking away from the table full and happy.

Vegetable Minestrone
4 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of water
1 Yellow Onion chopped

1 stalk of Celery chopped

2 Carrots, chopped

2 cloves of fresh Garlic minced

1 29oz. can of Diced Tomatoes with Basil
1 15oz. can of no salt added Kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup of frozen green beans
1/2 cup of frozen spinach
1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
2 Dried Bay leaves
1/3 cup of Whole Wheat macaroni noodles, uncooked
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large sauce pan over Medium high heat.  Add the celery, onion, carrots and garlic and 2 tablespoons of the water.  Saute the vegetables until tender ( about 5 minutes) adding more  tablespoons of water if needed.  Add the green beans, tomatoes, spinach and vegetable broth and the rest of the water.  Bring to a hard boil and add the Italian seasoning, bay leaves and the macaroni noodles, stir and let boil for 7-9 minutes or until the noodles are cooked.  Reduce the heat,and add salt and pepper to taste and let simmer for 15 minutes.  Serve Hot.

I hope that these two small changes will make a big difference in getting back to your healthy eating and keep checking the blog for more healthy tips.

Like what you are learning here? Don't forget to share it with a friend or two.  Also if you make any of the recipes or would like to featured please email me at  
Now I'm off to a big bowl of soup! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

So Many Ways to Use Cauliflower

I was never really wowed by Cauliflower. Growing up I always had it as part of a medley along with Broccoli ( one of my favorites as a kid) and Carrots.  My mother would boil the medley and season it with butter, salt and pepper.  I ate the Cauliflower first because it had the least flavor, then I would savor the carrots and broccoli.  But this past summer something wonderful happened, I lead a group of 20 people on what I called a "Summer Bounty" challenge.  This challenge consisted of all fruits and vegetables that are available in the summer. This is where my love of Cauliflower came to me.  In the 21 days without Pasta, Rice and Potatoes, Cauliflower became all of those things to me.

Taking Cauliflower buds and adding them to a high powered blender until a grain like consistency and roasting in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes on a sheet pan became our Rice.

Making a mixture of Chickpea flour and water and coating the cauliflower and baking it on a greased sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes and pouring a Paleo hot sauce over it made it into Buffalo wings.

Since the summer you are sure to see Cauliflower in my shopping cart both fresh and frozen.  Cauliflower is available at our house so often that my 10 year old roasts it herself with salt, pepper, olive oil and garlic and eats it like popcorn.  Then a couple of weeks ago when walking through the Produce department I saw this guy.

This is Romanesco, this beautiful fractal caught my eye and I knew I had to have it.  Native of Italy and  widely available in the Spring and early Summer, Romanesco can be found all year long in some specialty markets.  The flavor is that of Broccoli and Cauliflower having a baby.  It's firm texture makes it great for oven roasting and spicy seasoning like my Roasted Curried Vegetables recipe.

Roasted Curried Vegetables

1 head of Romanesco ( cut the head in half, cut florets off of middle stalk)
1 head of Cauliflower ( cut head in half, cut florets off of middle stalk)
1 cup of unsweetened Almond milk
3 Tablespoons of All Purpose Flour
1 cup of warm water
4-5 tablespoons of Curry powder( more if you can take the heat)
 1 yellow onion diced
1 clove of garlic minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of Safflower oil

Preheat oven to 400. Coat the Cauliflower and Romaneso with 1 Tablespoon of Safflower oil and place on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast the vegetables 15-20 or until browning. Remove and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the garlic and onion and the remaining Tablespoon of oil and sauté until the onions are opaque.  Add the Roasted vegetables to the pan and mix well. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and mix until all vegetables are covered.  Add the milk, water and the Curry Powder and stir and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer until the liquid is reduced about 3-5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve hot with Brown rice.

These are just some of the ways I love to use Cauliflower, What are yours?

Love what you're reading here?  Don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post and click on the left hand link to follow and get updates.  Still love it?  Share with your friends and anyone who needs help transitioning to plants.  Thanks Everyone!  I'm off to eat some veggies!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Nana's Yeast Rolls but Vegan

This is Nana. Nana was the name we called our Great-grandmother on my father's side.  She was a little silver haired firecracker and one of the best cooks I ever met in my life.  I went to Nana's house everyday after school and all summer long. I remember her always being in the kitchen. You could walk into her kitchen and get hot cooked breakfast from 7-9am, lunch from 11-1pm and dinner from 5-7pm and she always had enough for everyone.  Nana's background was German so her idea of soul food was Cabbage and Potatoes, Beef Brisket and her Yeast rolls.  For years as a child I would go to the store for her to get the ingredients for them including dry active yeast (Must be Fleishman's) sugar, All Purpose flour, Crisco and a few other things.  Nana would spend hours working on these rolls and they made the house smell so warm and cozy ( I wish it was a candle scent).  If you ever asked her how they were made she would tell you "a pinch of this, a little bit of that" and never did the mix the same way twice so we could memorize the steps. 
In my freshman year of college Nana died, and although I did master her Cabbage and Potato recipe, her yeast rolls went to her grave with her and my Aunt Clara and I have spent the last 20 or more years looking for that recipe. 
So this month as the weather turned cold and the thought of Nana's yeast rolls came to mind Clara and I each took a shot at the recipe and between the two of us and a little help from the Food Network and The Joy of Cooking cookbook we came up with very similar recipes, mine however is dairy free.  This recipe takes lots of patience and care but once you eat one or three of them you will know that all your hard work was worth it. So without further ado here is my version of my Nana's Yeast rolls
Nana's Yeast Rolls
4 cups Califia Almond Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 cup Safflower Oil
9 cups All Purpose Flour
2 packages (4 1/2 Tsp.) Active Dry Yeast
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
2 Tablespoons Salt
Pour 4 cups of milk into a large stock pot. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of vegetable oil. Stir to combine.Turn the burner on medium to medium-low. Before the mixture boils, turn off the heat and allow this mixture to cool to warm/lukewarm. The mixture will need to be warm enough to be a hospitable environment for the yeast, but not so hot that it kills the yeast and makes it inactive. Feel the side of the pan with the palm of your hand. The pan should feel comfortably warm.
When the mixture is the right temperature add in 4 cups of flour and 2 packages of (4-1/2 teaspoons) of active dry yeast. After the yeast and flour are nicely incorporated, add another 4 cups of flour. Stir together and allow to sit, covered with a dish towel or lid, for an hour. After about an hour it should have almost doubled in size. If it hasn’t changed much, put it in a warm (but turned off ) oven for 45 minutes or so. When it has risen sufficiently add 1 more cup of flour, 1 heaping teaspoon of baking powder, 1 scant teaspoon of baking soda and about 2 tablespoons of salt. Stir until combined.  Let the dough cool for another 30 minutes.
Butter 1 or 2 muffin pans. Form the rolls by pinching off a walnut sized piece of dough and rolling it into a little ball. Repeat and tuck three balls of dough into each buttered muffin cup. Continue until pan is full. Cover and allow to rise for about 1 to 2 hours.
Bake in a 400-degree oven until golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes.
This recipe makes about 36 rolls and can be frozen to enjoy later or you can share with friends.  If you make them or any of my recipes please send me pictures to

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Chickpeas, Garbanzo Beans and Channa

With so many names and so many uses this small member of the legume family is both inexpensive and a great source of protein and fiber (12 grams of protein and 12.5 grams of fiber per cup) for the plant based eater. When pureed the creamy texture makes it the perfect base for Hummus and when added to a stew the meatiness makes it super satisfying. Chickpeas can be made into flour for those staying away from wheat and is a great treat when made into Falafel. Chickpeas can be purchased both dried and canned and are available in most grocery stores. I like to buy and use canned, not only do they save time but chickpeas don't lose their nutrients when canned. You can always find 3 to 4 cans of no salt added chickpeas in my pantry and here are three of my favorite recipes for them.

Tuna salad was a staple in my diet for a quick lunch or dinner.  I missed it so much that I just replicated the recipe using a can of chickpeas and some vegan mayonnaise.

Chickpea "Tuna Salad
1 can of chickpeas rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tablespoon of vegan mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of sweet relish
1/4 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon of Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon of black pepper
Using a fork mash the whole chickpeas until a tuna like consistency.  Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Serve on a whole wheat tortilla with lettuce and tomato. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

If you love spicy or Indian food then this next recipe is for you.  It has more ingredients than I usually use but is so worth it and I promised to post more recipes so you can use them all again.
Chana Masala
3 tablespoons of Earth Balance buttery spread
1 medium red onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, sliced
1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chilies
2 14.5 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup of frozen spinach
1.5 cups of water
1 teaspoon of Cumin
1/8 teaspoon of powdered Ginger
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1/8 teaspoon smoked Paprika
1/8 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste
heat a large sauce pan over high heat until hot.  Reduce heat to medium high and add the Earth Balance, red onion and garlic stirring constantly until the onion is opaque.  Add the diced tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Pour the mixture into a high powered blender and blend until smooth.  Add the sauce back into the pot with the water, chickpeas, spinach and the spices except the salt and pepper. Mix well and reduce the heat and simmer covered for 10 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve over brown rice.

This last recipe I must give credit to my friend Kerry.  I failed twice at getting the crispy in my roasted chickpea snacks until she told me that you need to open the oven often to let the moister out.  So I opened the oven, not just to let out the moister but also to shake the chickpeas so they roast evenly and don't stick to the baking dish. So this one is for Kerry.

Pumpkin Spiced Roasted Chickpeas
1 can of chickpeas, rinsed drained and patted dry with a towel
cooking spray
1 tablespoon of Maple syrup
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
1/8 teaspoon of sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the chickpeas in a single layer and bake for 45 minutes to an hour opening the oven and shaking the sheet every 15 minutes until they are crispy.

While the chickpeas are baking mix together the Maple syrup, Pumpkin pie spice and the Sea salt in a bowl.  While chickpeas are still hot toss them in the syrup mixture. place them back on the baking sheet and back in oven for 5-7 minutes to caramelize.  Store leftover chickpeas in an air tight container.

So there you have it, three yummy ways to enjoy your new best friend the chickpea.  I hope you enjoy the recipes and make them soon.  If you do, don't forget to share this post with a friend and send me your pictures to for a chance to get featured on my blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Whatcha' Eat Today - Where's the Fruit?

So our next Whatcha' Eat Today journal belongs to my work-out accountability and running partner who is very into eating healthy and watching what she eats.  She's added supplements to aid her journey like Kelp- which is helpful in maintaining a strong metabolism and weight control and Chlorophyll- that is useful in cleansing the blood and boosting energy. Looking at her journal I was excited to see things like Tomatoes, Basil, Cauliflower, Guacamole, Quinoa, Kale and Brussels Sprouts all a part of my standards and favorites but I was sad that there was little to no fruit.
Day 1
Breakfast: 100 calorie bagel,1egg, 1/2 tomato and basil water with bitters, kelp, chlorophyll, coffee
Lunch: Yogurt
Dinner: Baked fish, mashed potatoes and roasted cauliflower, beer

Day 2
Breakfast: Coffee with kelp capsules
Lunch: Green smoothie with kelp capsules
Dinner: Yogurt and Collard greens

Day 3
Breakfast: Raisin Bran with Almond milk
Lunch: None
Dinner: Cereal and Almond milk
Snack: Homemade guacamole

Day 4
Breakfast: Coffee with kelp capsules, bitters, 1 egg and wheat toast
Lunch: Yogurt
Dinner: Cereal with Almond milk
Snack: Popcorn with butter

Day 5
Breakfast: 100 calorie bagel, kelp capsules, bitters and chlorophyll water, coffee
Lunch: Whole wheat sandwich thins with mozzarella and home made tomato sauce
Dinner: Buffalo wings, oven roasted potato thins, baby Kale and Brussels sprout salad with Quinoa

Many people think that fruit is loaded with sugar and is the enemy for weight loss but it’s just the opposite! The fiber, water content and antioxidants are your friend when thinking about your health and your weight.  The fiber in fruit can make you feel full longer and is helpful in giving our guts good bacteria.  So unless your Dr. recommends that you give it up, eat the fruit!  Some of the best times to eat fruit are as breakfast or in between meals so your body can absorb all of the great vitamins and nutrients it has to offer, don’t eat it too late at night as the natural sugars might keep you up.

As a runner there are two fruits that you must add to your diet.  Bananas and oranges.  Why? Because eating a banana or two before your run can help you with an energy boost and helps to sustain your blood sugar. These tasty sweet treats are full of fiber and help to curb cravings.  I love to put browned peeled bananas in the freezer.  You can use them for smoothies or one of my favorite recipes non-dairy ice cream. 

Banana "Nice" Cream

5 frozen bananas
1 teaspoon of Vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

Take bananas out of freezer and let set for 5 minutes.  Add the bananas and vanilla to a Vitamix or High powered blender.  Blend until bananas are smooth and the consistency of ice cream about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.  Scoop out into serving dish and top with cinnamon.  This is by far one of my favorite desserts served with chopped nuts and berries.  I am not ashamed to say that I've also had it for breakfast.  Beats a smoothie any day.

Oranges are in peak season in the winter and are a juicy and refreshing snack after a work-out and loaded with Vitamin C which is great in helping to repair sore tired muscles after a good work out. Go for the Navels or Cara Cara that are full of flavor and easy to peel.
Fruit are the carbs that runners need to fuel our bodies and helps us perform better and to restore our energy reserves. Just adding these Oranges and Bananas to your diet will not only provide you with vitamins, nutrients, fiber and energy but they are perfectly sweet and satisfying without leaving you with the post pastry guilt.

So my friend I look forward to our next run and you kicking my butt- I mean motivating me to go further - and the bag full of fruit that I'll bring to celebrate a great finish.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5 Questions for a Vegan- Michelle Johnson

I didn't start on the path to my way of eating because of ethical reasons or for health reasons but because I was pregnant with my one and only daughter and the sight, smell and thought of meat made me sick.  So naturally after giving birth I thought I would go back to my Corn Beef specials from Koch's in University City and the Stuffed Veal Chop from the cute little Italian restaurant in South Philly where my husband and I enjoyed a couple of our anniversary dinners.  But instead I made the choice to stay meat free.  When I made this choice I was all alone, there was no social media support groups for my kind and my friends and family had no idea what to feed me.  Even my husband was on a Steak and Eggs kick for a while and there I was trying my best to figure out what to I was going to feed me and my meat free child.  So when I was thinking about some things to share, I thought it might be helpful to interview people that I know who have plant based lifestyles and ask them 5 questions about their journey to help you with yours and to know that you are not alone.
My first plant based eater is Michelle Johnson a vegan home cook who's YouTube channel VeganCookingWithLove  helped me to not be afraid of tofu and how easy it is to make delicious vegan food that you can be proud to serve. I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle through a mutual vegan friend's social media page and finally got to meet her in person this Fall over dinner. We hit it off quickly with our love for food and willingness to order and eat the whole menu while our "dates" talked business. 
So here are my 5 questions to Michelle about her plant based lifestyle.

1) How and when did you become vegan?
"I became vegan in September of 2009 after listening to multiple episodes of Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Food for Thought podcast."

2) What is your favorite "go to" meal?
"I don't think I actually have one. Maybe I need one. It might keep me from having to think so much when I'm doing my meal planning. Pasta with marinara sauce is always easy though."

3) What product can you not live without? 

"Earth Balance!"

4) What was hard to give up to become vegan?

"It wasn't hard to give up anything because my reasons for becoming vegan were not personal. Once I learned about factory farming, I knew I didn't have a choice. There was no way I was going to continue participating in that horrific business. I do miss seafood and certain desserts that require 3 or more eggs!"

5) What's your favorite vegan restaurant?

"Ipanema Cafe in Richmond, VA is my favorite local vegan restaurant."
Thank you Michelle for all that you do and the inspiration you are to the plant based lifestyle.  Hopefully one day we can meet at Ipanema Café, order the whole menu and pick up where we left off.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My 10 Must Have Pantry Staples

"Healthy eating is too expensive".  How many times have I heard this from friends, family and even customers?  Countless.  So when one of my readers asked me for a list of pantry staples to have on hand to make quick meals I needed to make sure that not only did I provide a pantry list and some recipes but I wanted to keep it inexpensive as well. So I came up with a list of 10 pantry items and 6 recipes for under $25. Here are my top 10 must haves and the recipes I use them in.

1) Canned beans - black, kidney, white or navy
2) Canned Tomatoes- Whole, diced or crushed
3) Whole Wheat Spaghetti
4) Taco seasoning pack
5) Salsa
6) Brown rice
7)Frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrot, lima bean and green bean mix
8) Frozen vegetable stir-fry - mushrooms, peppers, broccoli and onion
9) Liquid amino or low-sodium soy sauce
10) Whole Wheat Tortilla
First is my version of the Filipino noodle dish Pancit.  This is one of the first dishes I learned to make and served it a lot when I first got married.  This dish requires pasta, liquid amino or soy sauce, frozen stir-fry vegetables, garlic and onion.
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 medium onion sliced thin
1 pound of whole wheat spaghetti
1 16 oz. pack of frozen mixed vegetables
2 tablespoons of liquid amino
1 tablespoon of safflower oil
Boil pasta according to the directions on the package and reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside. Reheat pasta pot over high heat and add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Sauté until the onions are softened and opaque.  Next add the frozen stir fry vegetables and stir until heated through.  Add the cooked pasta, the pasta water and the liquid amino.  Mix well and check for seasoning.  Add more amino, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm or cold.

The next recipe comes from my daughter's love of Chinese fried rice.  For this recipe I use the frozen mixed vegetables, cooked brown rice and the liquid amino.

Landry's "Fried" Rice
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
 2 Tablespoons plus more for seasoning Liquid Amino
Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Once hot add 2 tablespoons of liquid amino and the frozen mixed vegetables.  Stir the vegetables until coated with the amino and reduce the heat to medium and cover.  Let the vegetables cook for 5 minutes stirring once or twice to make sure they are not sticking.  If they are add some liquid amino or water to steam.  Taste the vegetables to make sure that they are heated through if not cover and let cook for 2 more minutes, if heated through add the brown rice and stir thoroughly.  Season to taste with more liquid amino and salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Who doesn't love Mexican food?  These next two recipes are my favorite next to Tacos. First up is a vegetable fajita using the taco seasoning, stir fried vegetables, whole wheat tortillas and the salsa.
Vegetable Fajitas
1 16 oz. pack of frozen stir fry vegetables
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 32 oz. jar of salsa
1 package of whole wheat tortillas
1 cup of water
In a large skillet sauté the frozen stir fry vegetables over high heat in 1/4 cup of water for 3 minutes.  Add the taco seasoning and the rest of the water bring to a boil and reduce the heat to simmer.  Let the vegetables simmer for 3-5 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.  While the vegetables are cooking separate the tortillas and restack placing a paper towel between each of them and microwave for 15 seconds to warm.  Once vegetables are cooked spoon 3 tablespoons into each of the tortillas and top with salsa.
Enchiladas are a recipe that I like to serve when I have lots of people coming over.  They are easy to assemble and can be make ahead of time which is the best kind of food for company.  For these I use the tortillas, cooked brown rice, canned beans and the salsa

Bean and Rice Enchiladas
2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 canned of beans rinsed ( I use black)
1 jar of salsa
1 package of whole wheat tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. Layer the bottom of a casserole dish with 1/2 cup of salsa and set aside. In a large bowl add the cooked rice, beans and salsa and mix well.  Lay a tortilla flat and add 1/2 cup of the mixture, roll the tortilla up to close and place fold side down in the casserole dish.  repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.  Once all of the tortillas are in the dish spoon 1/2 cup of salsa over tortillas and add optional shredded cheese.  Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until cheese melts.

Another of my favorite make ahead to feed a crowd recipes is chili. This chili only has five ingredients and doesn't take all day before they can eat.  For this you will need the canned tomatoes, canned beans ( black and kidney), taco seasoning and brown rice

 Vegetarian Taco Chili
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 pack of taco seasoning
1 16 oz. can of black beans, rinsed
1 16 oz. can of red kidney beans, rinsed
2 cups of cooked brown rice
optional ingredients: frozen corn and bell peppers

Add the taco seasoning and diced tomatoes and bell peppers if using to a large sauce pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil.  Add the beans and reduce heat to low and simmer for if using corn add it now.  Simmer for 30 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over 1/2 cup of brown rice.

The last recipe is a quick marinara sauce that is so easy my 10 year old daughter can make it.  All you need are canned tomatoes, sugar and fresh basil, garlic and whole wheat spaghetti.  We like to serve our Spaghetti marinara with steamed broccoli

10 Year Old's Marinara
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 can of diced tomatoes with basil
8 fresh basil leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 pound of cooked whole wheat spaghetti

Add the canned tomatoes, garlic and sugar to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the fresh basil and stir.  Season with salt and pepper and spoon over pasta.  Serve hot.

So there you have it, some of my favorite pantry staples and just a few of the possibilities you can make quick easy and never again should you say that eating healthy is too expensive.  So now I ask you. 
 What's your favorite go to meal?