Sunday, June 30, 2013

Savory Vegan Popcorn

Savory Vegan Popcorn

The cheesy nutty popcorn is big on taste and better for you than movie popcorn. 

Healthy benefits

Organic popping corn does not have the pesticide residues or other toxic residues commonly found on conventionally grown corn, and it has not have been genetically engineered (as genetic engineering is not allowed in production of certified organic foods).
Popcorn is an abundant source of fiber, and that it has some B vitamins and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorous. Being 100% whole grain, it has antioxidant properties which help protect against cancers, heart diseases, and other illnesses that are caused by free radicals (cells that attack other healthy ones).
Nutritional Yeast is very rich in B vitamins, including B12, which is what gives it that yellow color. Vitamin B-12 is essential for a healthy nervous system, proper food metabolism, and the construction and regeneration of red blood cells. One serving of nutritional yeast, about ½-1 Tbsp, provides the full amount of B12 needed for an adult in day.  It is a great source of 18 amino acids, protein, folic acid, biotin and other vitamins.  It is also rich in 15 minerals including iron, magnesium, phorphorus, zinc, and chromium, and selenium.
Ingredients (4 servings – 86 calories per serving)
1/2 cup of organic popcorn kernels
2 tbsp of Earth Balance butter
1 tbsp of Bragg's nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp of sea salt

- Cook air popcorn
- Melt Earth Balance butter in microwave for 20 seconds
- Drizzle butter over freshly popped popcorn (allows nutritional yeast to stick)
- Add Nutritional Yeast
- Add Sea Salt

Note to vegan chef
Corn is one of the most commonly genetically modified foods on the market. In fact, 85% of US corn is genetically altered. A growing number of health officials are concerned that genetically engineered foods have dire consequences on the environment—and our health. Sidestep the issue by choosing organic popcorn.

Nutrition (per 8 oz. serving)
Calories: 86
Total fat: 5.9 g
     Sat. fat: 2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 205.6 mg
Carbohydrates: 6.7 g
     Fiber: 1.2 g
     Sugars: 0 g
Protein: 1.8 g

Reference:  The Surprising Popcorn Power, The Health Benefits of Popcorn, Popcorn's Surprising Health BenefitsThe Health Benefits of Nutritional Yeast, Bragg Nutritional Yeast FAQ's,

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Almond Milk - Homemade

Making Homemade Almond Milk is fun and easy
You will be amazed! It's delicious. 

Healthy benefits
Almond milk is high in a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, iron, fiber, zinc and calcium. Almond milk is lactose, gluten, casein and cholesterol free.

This homemade version is very low in sodium and low in sugar. It has 5.1 grams of protein per serving as opposed to a store bought versions that only has 1 -1.5 grams of protein.

Ingredients: (3 servings – 138 calories per serving)
1 cup raw almonds soaked in water for at least 4 hours
3.5 cups water
2 large pitted Medjool dates
1 vanilla pod (bean) 
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place almonds in a bowl and cover with water. It’s preferred to soak them overnight (for 8-12 hours) in the water, but you can get away with soaking for 1-2 hours in a pinch.

Vegan Energy
Almonds get plump after soaking.
Prepare Vanilla Bean
Slice lengthwise and scrape out the caviar with the back of a wide-tip knife. Cut the bean into 1/4" pieces. Place caviar and pieces in the blender. 
Slice vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the caviar
- Drain the almonds and place into a blender along with water, pitted dates, chopped vanilla bean.
- Blend on highest speed for about one minute.
- Pour through a mesh strainer if you like some pulp (I do) or use cheese cloth over the mesh strainer if you want no pulp. Use the backside of spoon to move the almond milk through the pulp.
- Rinse out blender and pour the milk back in. Add the cinnamon and blend on low to combine.
- Pour into a glass jar to store in the fridge. It keeps for up to 3-5 days. Shake jar well before using as the mixture separates when sitting. 

Note to vegan chef
If you don't have a vanilla bean, you could use 1 tsp of vanilla extract, but beware it contains alcohol. (since the alcohol is not being cooked off, the alcohol will remain in the milk). 

You can use the almond pulp for foods like oatmeal, hummus, homemade granola, smoothies, cookie or muffin batter, crackers, or you can even dehydrate it and then blend it up to make almond meal. It freezes too. 

The three common types of vanilla beans are: Bourbon-Madagascar, Mexican and Tahitian. Bourbon-Madagascar beans are rich, sweet and the thinnest of the three beans. Mexican vanilla beans have a smooth rich flavor. Tahitian vanilla beans are the thickest and darkest, and although aromatic they are not as flavorful as the other two types. I like the Madagascar beans. I buy 1/2 pound online from Beanilla.

Nutrition (per 8 oz. serving)

Reference: Vanilla Beans, The Healthier Choice: Almond Milk vs MilkCalorie Count

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Scrambled Tofu with Spicy Salsa

Scrambled Tofu with Spicy Salsa is protein that's high in taste but low in calories and fat. 
Tofu takes on the flavor of its surrounding ingredients. If you love salsa, you'll love this scramble.

Healthy benefits
Tofu is a highly nutritious, protein-rich food. It's a complete protein that contributes to significantly lowering total cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein, LDL (bad cholesterol) leading to a greatly reduced risk of heart disease. It's a great source of many nutrients including tryptophan, calcium, manganese, iron, protein, omega-3 fats and more.

Salsa is rich in vitamins and minerals and is a good source of the fat-soluble Vitamins A, E and K. Despite being low in calories, salsa is high in vitamin A (helps your eyes be better about night blindness), vitamin B6 (helps maintain healthy brain function, maintain normal nerve function, helps form red blood cells) and Vitamin C (helpful in their role as antioxidants). It's a good source of iron, as well as magnesium and potassium to help maintain normal blood pressure which could help prevent strokes, heart attack and other potentially life-threatening heart problems.
Ingredients (1 serving – 228 calories per serving)
1 cup organic tofu
3 tbsp medium salsa
- In a bowl, mix crumbled tofu and salsa
- Spray cooking pan with canola oil
- Cook and stir tofu and salsa for about a minute

Note to vegan chef
Chunky salsa will add more texture and color. Experiment with vegetable salsas and mild, medium or hot salsa. Make your own fresh salsa to avoid the high sodium that can be found in store bought salsa.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 228
Total fat: 10.7 g
     Sat fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 441.7 mg (mostly store bought salsa)
Carbohydrates: 11 g
     Fiber: 4.2 g
     Sugars: 3 g
Protein: 24 g

Reference: TofuNutritional Info for Salsa, Loseit, Top Health Benefits of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spicy Cashew Cream Penne with Kale

Kale is a nutritional powerhouse
Love the slightly crunchy texture and delicate nutty flavor. It's mildly spicy in a subtle way. It delivers on taste, nutrition and is quick to make. 

Healthy benefits
Kale has fantastic health benefits: it lowers cholesterol, reduces risk of heart disease and has Vitamins A, K, C, and phytonutrients … it's good for skin, hair and nails.

Nutritional yeast is an excellent vegan source of protein and vitamins especially the B-complex vitamins and is a complete protein. It is naturally low in fat and sodium and is free of sugar, dairy and gluten, and fortified with Vitamin B-12 ... important for red blood cell formation and nerve cells development.

Cashews have the heart-healthy monounsaturated fat that promotes good cardiovascular health.

Ingredients (serves 2 – 487 calories per serving)
8 ounces penne pasta (vegetable)

Sauté Kale
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 shallot (or onion) chopped
1 clove of garlic
3 large handfuls of kale (about 3 branches)

Creamy Cashew Sauce
3/4 cup cashews
2 tablespoons salsa
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 cup unsweetened almond (or soy) milk
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. chili powder (on top when done)

- Cook pasta first
- In a large pan, warm a 2 tbsp of olive oil
- Sauté chopped onions, garlic and kale until kale has cooked down completely
- In a blender, add cashews, nutritional yeast, spices, salsa and almond milk (or soy)
- Blend until you have a creamy consistency 
- Add pasta to cooked kale and toss with cream sauce briefly
- After plating, sprinkle with a dash of chili powder

Note to vegan chef
The creamy sauce can be thin or thick with a slightly crunchy texture. Add more milk or water to thin it out to your liking. I choose the vegetable penne for the color and added nutrition. I prefer shallots over onions for a sweeter taste.

Nutrition (per serving)
Calories: 487
Total fat: 23.6 g
     Sat fat: 3.5 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 272 mg
Carbohydrates: 54.7 g
     Fiber: 11.5 g
     Sugars: 5.3 g
Protein: 13.8 g

Modified from

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes with Chia Seeds

A rich pumpkin flavor that's moist, dense and sweet. Gives you a satisfied and content feeling. Chia seeds add an interesting texture.

Health Benefits
Pumpkins are high in fiber which helps control blood sugar, lower bad cholesterol, aid in weight loss and helps absorb food nutrients. They are naturally low in fat and calories and are packed with immune-boosting antioxidants including alpha-carotene and beta-carotene which help maintain healthy eyes and skin. They also contain high amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, C and E, magnesium, potassium and iron.

2 cups of Trader Joe's Multigrain Pancake Mix
1-1/2 cups of soy or almond milk
2 flaxseed eggs (2 tbspn of ground flaxseed + 6 tbspn of water, wait 3 minutes, stir)
2/3 cups of pumpkin puree (or roasted sweet pumpkins when in season)
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp of chia seeds

- Combine all ingredients in large bowl and stir
- Cook until lightly browned on both sides
- Serve with maple syrup

Note to vegan chef
The Multigrain Pancake Mix is a key ingredient. I have tried whole wheat flour and buckwheat flour but they are not as good. Another option to try is Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake Mix, but I haven't tried that yet. Anxious to use my coconut flour, I used 1/4 cup of coconut flour with 3/4 cups of Multigrain Pancake Mix and that was good for an even more interesting flavor.

I have made these using roasted pumpkins instead of puree and they are outstanding.

This recipe was modified from

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries (baked)

Sweet Potatoes are fat-free and packed with beta carotene.

These nutritious sweet potato fries are a combination of complex seasoning and a hardy root vegetable. It's a deep satisfying taste that doesn't depend on ketchup. 

Health Benefits
Sweet potatoes are good for your cardiovascular health, helps stabilize blood sugar levels and can help with your metabolism. They are also a rich source of flavonoid anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber that are essential for optimal health.

Ingredients (5 servings – 165 calories per serving)
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, rinsed and dried
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (or use apple sauce or cranberry juice for a healthier low fat substitute)
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. coarse salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. freshly-cracked black pepper
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne (optional)

- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl (except potatoes) and stir
- Cut the potatoes into to your desired thickness and length keeping the nutrient-rich skins
- Add potatoes in the large bowl until potatoes are evenly coated
- Spread the potatoes evenly on a baking sheet 
- Bake for 20 minutes, turning the fries once or twice time to cook evenly
- Remove once the edges slightly begin to brown and fries begin to crisp

Note to vegan chef
Fresh-cracked black pepper and cayenne can make it a little spicy for some.

Nutrition (serving size: 1 cup)
Calories: 165
     Total Fat: 5.7 g
     Sat Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 569.7 mg
Carb.: 27.3 g
     Fiber: 3.9 g
     Sugar: 5.4 g
Protein: 2.3 g

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Rolled Coconut Dates with Walnuts

Dates are a powerhouse of vitamins loaded with fiber

Tastes great and will give you a 'nutritionally content' feeling.

Health Benefits
Dates are a powerhouse of important vitamins and minerals loaded with fiber, soluble and insoluble. They're an excellent source of potassium. Walnuts are a rich source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and an excellent source of those hard to find omega-3 fatty acids. Coconut is a nutritious source of fiber, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It has tons of calcium, potassium and magnesium as well as plenty of electrolytes. Its antioxidant properties slow down the aging process by protecting the body from harmful free radicals.

Medjool dates, walnuts, shredded coconut

- Container of Medjool Dates (any quantity)
- Remove pits from dates
- Cut into fine pieces and mix together as a big ball
- Add crushed walnuts (about 25% of the rolled up date volume)
- Separate mixed dates and walnuts into manageable sizes
- Roll into coconut (like small tootsie roll size)
- Chill and enjoy

Note to vegan chef
I learned that when I tried to put too many walnuts in the mix (more than about 25% of the date volume) the rollups don't have enough 'sticking power' and won't hold tougher well. 

Red Velvet Chocolate Coconut Muffins

Beets are highly nutritious and can help lower cholesterol

These are dense and moist muffins I enjoy for breakfast, snacks and dessert. 

Health benefits 
Satisfy your chocolate cravings with beets, a highly nutritious and "cardiovascular health" friendly root vegetable. Certain unique pigment antioxidants in the root, as well in its top greens, offer protection against coronary artery disease and stroke; lower cholesterol levels and have anti-aging effects.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins

Preparation (175 calories per serving)
1 cup roasted beets roasted beets, shredded (about 3 beets) - One hour at 375 degrees in aluminum foil drizzled with olive oil or canola oil. Wrap tight. After roasting, cool with water, drain water, peel skins put in a bowl and use a potato masher to smooth out the lumps.

Wet - combine all wet ingredients in a medium-sized bowl
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 flax seed eggs (2 tbsp of flaxseed, 6 tbs of water)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Dry - combine all dry ingredients in a large-sized bowl
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut  
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat to 350F 

Add wet mixture and blend. Spoon batter into muffin tin and fill each cup to the top. Optional: Sprinkle with more dried coconut on top. Bake for 35 minutes.

Nutrition (per muffin)
Calories: 175
Total Fat: 13.2 g
     Sat. Fat: 10 g
Sodium: 11.6 mg
Carbohydrates: 14.2 g
     Fiber: 2.5 g
     Sugars: 5.2 g
Protein: 2 g

Referece: LoseIt

Vegan humor
How do you spot the vegan at a dinner party? Don't worry, he'll let you know.