Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 25 Power Foods!

This list of power foods helped please the scientist in me, and I hope it will please the foodie in you! Also, it doesn't really include "new" foods like chia seeds (which are super awesome) or anything from the rainforest.


01. Apricots
The Power: Beta-carotene, which helps prevent free-radical damage and protect the eyes. The body also turns beta-carotene into vitamin A, which may help ward off some cancers, especially of the skin. One apricot has 17 calories, 0 fat, 1 gram of fiber. Snacks on them dried, or if you prefer fresh, buy when still firm; once they soften, they lose nutrients.

02. Avocados
The Power: Oleic acid, an unsaturated fat that helps lower overall cholesterol and raise levels of HDL, plus a good dose of fiber. One slice has 81 calories, 8 grams of fat and 3 grams of fiber. Try a few slices instead of mayonnaise to dress up your next burger.

03. Raspberries
The Power: Ellagic acid, which helps stall cancer-cell growth. These berries are also packed with vitamin C and are high in fiber, which helps prevent high cholesterol and heart disease. A cup has only 60 calories, 1 gram of fat and 8 grams of fiber. Top plain low-fat soyogurt or oatmeal (another high fiber food) with fresh berries.

05. Cantaloupe
The Power: Vitamin C (117mg in half a melon, almost twice the recommended daily dose) and beta-carotene - both powerful antioxidants that help protect cells from free-radical damage. Plus, half a melon has 853mg of potassium - almost twice as much as a banana, which helps lower blood pressure. Half a melon has 97 calories, 1 gram of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Cut into cubes and freeze, then blend into an icy smoothie.

06. Cranberry Juice
The Power: Helps fight bladder infections by preventing harmful bacteria from growing. A cup has 144 calories, 0 grams of fat and 0 fiber. Buy 100 percent juice concentrate and use it to spice up your daily H20 without adding sugar.

07. Tomato
The Power: Lycopene, one of the strongest carotenoids, acts as an antioxidant. Research shows that tomatoes may cut the risk of bladder, stomach and colon cancers in half if eaten daily. A tomato has 26 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. Drizzle fresh slices with olive oil, because lycopene is best absorbed when eaten with a little fat.

08. Raisins
The Power: These little gems are a great source of iron, which helps the blood transport oxygen and which many women are short on. A half-cup has 218 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Sprinkle raisins on your morning oatmeal or bran cereal (especially during that time of the month!)

09. Figs
The Power: A good source of potassium and fiber, figs also contain vitamin B6, which is responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin, lowering cholesterol
and preventing water retention. The Pill depletes B6, so if you use this method of birth control, make sure to get extra B6 in your diet. One fig has 37 to 48 calories, 0 fat and 2 grams of fiber. You can also use dried figs as a fat substitute in baking, just blend a few figs with a little water until you get a paste-like consistency. Use it for half the amount of fat called for (instead of 1 c. margarine, use 1/2 c. + 1/2 c. figgy paste).

10. Lemons/Limes
The Power: Limonene, furocoumarins and vitamin C, all of which help prevent cancer. A wedge has 2 calories, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Buy a few of each and squeeze over salads, beans, and vegetables for fat free flavor.


11. Onions
The Power: Quercetin is one of the most powerful flavonoids (natural plant antioxidants). Studies show it helps protect against cancer. A cup (chopped) has 61 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Chop onions for the maximum phytonutrient boost, or if you hate to cry, roast them with a little olive oil and serve with rice or other vegetables.

12. Artichokes
The Power: These odd-looking vegetables contain silymarin, an antioxidant that helps prevent skin cancer, plus fiber to help control cholesterol. One medium artichoke has 60 calories, 0 fat and 7 grams of fiber. Steam over boiling water for 30 to 40 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice on top, then pluck the leaves off with your fingers and use your teeth to scrape off the rich-tasting skin. When you get to the heart, you have found the best part!

13. Ginger
The Power: Gingerols may help reduce queasiness; other compounds may help ward off migraines and arthritis pain by blocking inflammation-causing prostaglandins. A teaspoon of fresh gingerroot has only 1 calorie, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Peel the tough brown skin and slice or grate into a stir-fry.

14. Broccoli
The Power: Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which help protect against breast cancer. Broccoli also has lots of vitamin C and beta-carotene. One cup (chopped) has 25 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Don't overcook broccoli - instead, microwave or steam lightly to preserve phytonutrients. Squeeze fresh lemon on top for a zesty and taste, added nutrients and some vitamin C.

15. Spinach
The Power: Lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help fend off macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness in older people. Plus, studies show this green fountain of youth may help reverse some signs of aging. One cup has 7 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. Add raw leaves to a salad or saute with a little olive oil and garlic.

16. Bok Choy (Chinese cabbage)
The Power: Brassinin, which some research suggests may help prevent breast tumors, plus indoles and isothiocyanates, which lower levels of estrogen, make this vegetable a double-barreled weapon against breast cancer. A cup will also give you 158mg of calcium (16 percent of your daily recommended requirement) to help beat osteoporosis. A cup (cooked) has 20 calories, 0 fat and 3 grams of fiber. Find it in your grocer's produce section or an Asian market. Slice the greens and juicy white stalks, then saute like spinach or toss into a stir-fry just before serving.

17. Squash (Butternut, Pumpkin, Acorn)
The Power: Winter squash has huge amounts of vitamin C and beta-carotene, which may help protect against endometrial cancer. One cup (cooked) has 80 calories, 1 gram of fat and 6 grams of fiber. Cut on in half, scoop out the seeds and bake or microwave until soft, then dust with cinnamon.

18. Watercress and Arugula
The Power: Phenethyl isothiocyanate, which, along with beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, may help keep cancer cells at bay. One cup has around 4 calories, 0 fat and 1 gram of fiber. Do not cook these leafy greens; instead, use them to garnish a sandwich or add a pungent, peppery taste to salad.

19. Garlic
The Power: The sulfur compounds that give garlic its pungent flavor can also lower LDL ("bad") cholesterol, lower blood pressure and even reduce your risk of stomach and colon cancer. A clove has 4 calories, 0 fat and 0 fiber. Bake a whole head for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft and sweet and spread on bread instead of butter.

Grains, Beans and Nuts:

20. Quinoa
The Power: A half cup of cooked quinoa has 5 grams of protein, more than any other grain, plus iron, riboflavin and magnesium. A half-cup has 170 calories, 5 grams of fat and 5 grams of fiber. Add to soup for a protein boost. Rinse first, or it will taste bitter.

NOTE: Some brands of quinoa, such as Bob's Red Mill, prewashes and dries the quinoa for you so you don't have to bother rinsing those itty-bitty grains.

21. Wheat Germ
The Power: A tablespoon gives you about 7 percent of your daily magnesium, which helps prevent muscle cramps; it is also a good source of vitamin E. One tablespoon has 27 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 gram of fiber. Sprinkle some over soyogurt, fruit or cereal.

22. Lentils
The Power: Isoflavones, which may inhibit estrogen-promoted breast cancers, plus fiber for heart health and an impressive 9 grams of protein per half cup. A half-cup (cooked) has 115 calories, 0 fat and 8 grams of fiber. Isoflavones hold up through processing, so buy lentils canned, dried or already in soup. Take them to work, and you will have a protein packed lunch.

23. Peanuts
The Power: Studies show that peanuts or other nuts (which contain mostly unsaturated "good" fat) can lower your heart-disease risk by over 20 percent. One ounce has 166 calories, 14 grams of fat and 2 grams of fiber. Keep a packet in your briefcase, gym bag or purse for a protein-packed post-workout nosh or an afternoon pick me up that will satisfy you until supper, or chop a few into a stir-fry for a Thai accent.

24. Pinto Beans
The Power: A half cup has more than 25 percent of your daily requirement of folate, which helps protect against heart disease and reduces the risk of birth defects. A half-cup (canned) has 103 calories, 1 gram of fat and 6 grams of fiber. Drain a can, rinse and toss into a pot of vegetarian chili.

25. Yogurt
The Power: Bacteria in active-culture yogurt helps prevent yeast infections; calcium strengthens bones. A cup has 155 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of fiber. Get the plain kind and mix in your own fruit to keep calories and sugar down. Luckily for us vegans, soyogurt contains the same active bacteria cultures as dairy yogurt, thus providing the same health benefits.

Reproduced from

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Spiced Banana Pancakes

I freaking love pancakes, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! They're like another food group for me. Seriously. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and probably once a week. They're so quick and easy and filling. Pancakes can be fattening, but I've lightened up these a little. I never add any oil to my pancakes (you know, cause they're cooked it in), and as long as I make them in a nonstick with some cooking spray, they never stick. These pancakes work out to be about 110 calories and less than a gram of fat per pancake (about .75 g). Served with a touch of vegan margarine (just a touch!) and a serving of real maple syrup, you're looking at a dang tasty supper. That won't put a lot on the middle (a far cry from the egg-dairy-fat laden pancakes at a restaurant).

So yeah, done with my pancake rant!

Banana pancakes was seriously the first thing I ever made as a new vegan, and I will always conjure up memories of those days when I eat these. :)

(Lightly) Spiced Banana Pancakes:
1. Combine these ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk (kinda works like a sifter):
1 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour or graham flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
a few shakes cardamom (can get overpowering if you use too much)

2. Combine these ingredients in a small bowl:
1 large, very ripe banana, mashed
1 Tb. brown sugar
1 1/4 c. soymilk
1/4 tsp. vanilla (just a touch, use between 1/8-1/4 tsp.)

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until combined. If desired, thin with a little soymilk.

4. In a nonstick pan sprayed with cooking spray, cook the pancakes a couple at a time over medium-ish heat. When the pancakes are slightly dry around the edges and a few bubbles form in the center, flip with a spatula, and cook a couple minutes more.

5. Repeat with remaining batter.

NOTE: These pancakes are a wee bit thick, so they may not bubble that much. However, they still cook pretty fast (about 3-4 minutes), so keep your eye on them.


Holiday Rice

I adapted this recipe from last October's issue of Vegetarian Times. I saw the recipe for the Wild Rice Autumn Rissoles and I really wanted to make it. I bought all the stuff to make it (though most I had on hand) and instead of making a cooked patty (the recipe originally called from 3 eggs), I made a holiday stir-fry. It rocks. When me and my boyfriend were snowed in last week, our Christmas dinners got canceled so we wound up having to "make-do" with the holiday flavors of this. We were delightfully surprised at it, and will definitely make it again.

Suggestion: In order to make a super awesome one-dish skillet meal, I recommend browning and crumbling half a tube of Gimme Lean sausage, then going on with the recipe as usual. It makes it more hearty that way. Serve it with a winter salad and some cranberry sauce (yup... it's real good with the rice) and you got yourself a well-rounded meal.

The flavors of the cranberries and pecans add nice texture while the traditional herbs give it that holiday flavor. I was going to make it with half wild rice and half brown rice, but the wild rice had a stranger-than-usual funk about it. I normally love wild rice, but I couldn't stomach it this go round so I just doubled the brown rice.

Holiday Rice:
2 c. cold, cooked brown rice (nice and fluffy)
2 leeks, washed well, white and light green parts chopped
1/2 c. dried cranberries
3 artichoke hearts (about half a 6 oz. jar. NOT MARINATED), chopped
1/4 c. pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 tsp. EACH dried sage, thyme, and rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a warm skillet, toast the pecans until fragrant, a couple minutes. Then set aside.

2. Using a little oil, saute the leeks and artichoke hearts, about three minutes.

3. Add the spices and stir until fragrant, about one minute.

4. Add the rice, cranberries, pecans, salt, and pepper. Stir until heated through.

5. Serve with cranberry sauce, enjoy!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pantry Challenge

Alright. Christmas just passed... it's the end of the year... time for another pantry challenge!!

I have an abundance of delicious things in my pantry: bulgur wheat, brown rice, polenta, quinoa (he he, I like my grains), diced tomatoes and tomato sauce, aduzki beans, pinto beans, black beans, macaroni, dried nuts, raisins, figs, coconut, lentils, vegetable broth... the list goes on and on.

I have a habit of grocery shopping when I'm hungry, I suppose.

So, in an attempt to make up for any um, budget shortfalls, next month I'm going on another pantry challenge. I'm going to try to use up most of the items in my pantry while making sure that I only go to the grocery store for necessary things, like soymilk and fresh produce. Hopefully, I can trim my food costs down for about a month or so (I'm hoping to save about $50-100). Also, I hate to throw food away and I got a few items getting close to the end of the line.

A few ideas:
Spicy vegetarian chili (made with bulgur... I have so much of that stuff!).

Indian-style peppers and onions with tofu and coconut rice.

My personal favorite: Black beans with caramelized onions and fried polenta! That's home-cookin' right there.

And well... that's mostly what I got for now. I was also thinking of a few casseroles, subbing the bulgur wheat for ground meat. And maybe a butternut soup. And possibly a few things with coconut milk? I'll definitely be doing some posting of recipes soon. Hope everybody enjoyed their holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Time for some food porn!!

Picture 1: Corncakes with blueberry syrup. There isn't a single decent vegan corn (pan)cake recipe out there that was what I was looking for. I was wanting something sweet, not savory and I was wanting it soaked in blueberry syrup. I created my own recipe and it tasted great... except for
the fact that I accidentally cooked it in my cast iron pan that's reserved for olive oil... Needless to say, sweet corncakes cooked in olive oil and served with blueberries didn't do much for the palate. I will be perfecting this recipe and reposting it, but in the meantime, we shall just look at pictures of it.

Picture 2: This was super delicious green curry, with a thick, coconut cream sauce. It was definitely the best curry I've ever made, and I know I've got the recipe around here somewhere. It involved cooking the spices in the coconut cream before adding the rest of the milk to the sauce. It was very good. When I find the recipe I shall surely post it!

Picture 3: Ah, yes. More tofu, this time it's stir-fried with peppers, onions, and mini cabbages, topped with roasted peanuts and served over rice noodles. I'd like to try this recipe again (the original one I created needed a little tweaking), maybe using actual bok choy this time. And actually, when I ate the leftovers over quinoa (with some extra brown sugar and tamari...) it was better. It's pretty amazing over quinoa... though pretty much anything with quinoa is amazing!

Oh, yeah. I'm also going to be making a wedding cake! Unfortunately, it won't be vegan, but never the less I get to test my skills as a baker. I've been reading "The Joy of Cooking" (the 1962 edition) and believe it or not, I've been learning a LOT of stuff... stuff that I think a lot of cooks have forgotten about. SO I shall be putting my skills to the test, but in return you'll be getting some kick-ass recipes, in all their delicious (vegan) glory!

Spicy Baked Asian Tofu

I think that baking tofu is the best way to go. Hands down. I always bake my tofu, because it's kind of a super easy-quick way to marinate it. It's only after it's been baked do I toss it with some noodles or wok it in a stir fry. I think the flavor and texture of it is superior to just plain stir-fried, and I always have a hard time trying not to munch on these things when I see their baked deliciousness sitting in the fridge.

It's Asian because it's Thai-ish, but believe me if I didn't live it a culturally defunct little town I would be cooking these babies up with some Kaffir leaves, tamarind, and lemongrass. So, I guess I have to settle with my chili paste and tamari (though I did drive over an hour to get to that paste).

Either way, this is my favorite kind of tofu.

Spicy Baked Asian Tofu:
3 Tb. low-sodium tamari
1 Tb. peanut oil
1/2 Tb. Thai chile-garlic paste
1/2 tsp. chili oil
1/2 tsp. ginger (powdered)
1 block of firm or extra firm tofu

Preheat oven to 375.
1. Press tofu for about 15-30 minutes (I usually put it between two plates and then place my flour canister on top. It's heavy, but it doesn't make the tofu split).

2. Combine all other ingredients in a shallow baking dish (it probably won't completely cover the bottom, that's ok).

3. Cube the tofu and add it to the baking dish. Give it a stir so that all the cubes are coated with the marinade.

4. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour. Stirring it occasionally. I like it best when the edges get a little crusty. It's soooo good. You now have tofu you can eat cold right out of the fridge add to anything! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pesto Pasta Skillet

This was fun to make and I enjoyed eating it! I love macaroni noodles, but yeah. This was fairly easy to make. It didn't take that much time and my boyfriend said he'd like me to make it again. That's always a good sign! Most of it was gone the first night. I served it alongside garlic-butter asparagus and garlic bread (both made with vegan margarine). Good stuff. Basil was just what I needed.

Do this recipe in parts:
1. Make pesto first, then place in refrigerator.
2. Cook vegetables and pasta concurrently, then mix together right before serving.

1 1/4 c. fresh basil, packed (cut off the big stems first)
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts (or sunflower seeds, they taste the same)
2 Tb. olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
Sea salt to taste

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. I would do the nuts by themselves first and get them kinda paste-y, unless you don't mind little pieces of nuts in your pesto.
2. Refrigerate.

Pesto Pasta:
2 c. dry macaroni
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 - 1 Tb. vegan margarine
1 tsp. garlic

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, over medium, saute onions and garlic in margarine until almost soft.
3. Add chopped tomato and cook through until everything is a nice golden color.

4. Drain the cooked pasta and add to the onion/tomato mixture.
5. Add refrigerated pesto to skillet and stir until all is combined well and heated through. Enjoy!

I'm definitely going to make this again, but I think I'll make it with 2 cups of basil then. I love that stuff!

Four (very big!) servings: 340 calories each

Black Bean Burgers

I love these things. They're really easy to make and they're real good for you. You can choose to top your with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions or you can be lazy and use salsa. Either way, it's full of deliciousness.

Black Bean Burgers:
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 c. dried bread crumbs
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste

Whole-wheat buns, plus toppings.

1. In food processor, combine the beans and onions until they're thoroughly mashed. Add bread crumbs, cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pulse until well-combined.
2. In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, spoon bean mixture into patties. Then cook about 8 minutes on each side or until browned and heated through. Enjoy!

I can't remember how many this makes. I think 6. So in that case, calories are 160 per serving (not including buns or toppings).

UPDATE: I've made these burgers on many occasions and a long time ago I posted this recipe on VegWeb (an awesome vegan/vegetarian recipe collection). I've upped the beans, but the original recipe is still pretty much the same. If you would like some reviews on the tastiness of this recipe, click here. Also, the reviewers are right. If you freeze them a little bit before you cook them they'll stay together better.

I just have an aversion to frozen things. Lol.

Chocolate Cake with Mousse Frosting

I made this cake for my nonveg roommate's birthday. They liked it, but they're more of a cake-from-a-box type of people. They like that spongy, air type of cake, whereas I'm more of a cake-from-scratch type of person (I like that dense, cakey texture). They loved the icing though! AND even better, this cake will make a layer cake. It has the perfect texture and crumb for it. I really wanted to layer it, but alas, I had no cake box to store it in after frosting...

I thought this cake was pretty magical. I ate it for breakfast with some strong coffee (my favorite way to enjoy desserts!). I will definitely make it whenever I need me some chocolate cake.

Also, a trick to vegan cake baking is to bake it as soon as possible. As soon as that batter is mixed, get it into the oven. The vinegar and the baking soda react together to create the rise, so if you take too long getting it into the oven, it will go flat.

Chocolate Cake:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/3 c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. oil
1/4 c. vegan chocolate syrup (most are vegan, even Hershey's)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. soymilk
1 tsp. rice vinegar

Preheat oven to 350.
1. Mix soymilk and rice vinegar. Set aside and let curdle.
2. In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. I like to whisk it together because it gives it a nice, sifted texture.
3. In a small bowl, combine the oil, chocolate syrup, vanilla, and soymilk mixture.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and combine well.
5. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9 x 13 x 2 in. cake pan and bake for 30-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
6. Let cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Mousse Frosting:
1/2 c. vegan margarine
2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
dash of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tb. soymilk
2 Tb. chocolate syrup

1. Beat margarine, powdered sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth and fluffy.
2. Add vanilla, soymilk, and chocolate syrup, then beat until well-combined and still fluffy.
3. Spread over cooled cake.

Cake + Frosting: 16 slices/250 calories for a slice. NOT BAD for a cake, huh? Cake by itself is only 130 calories a slice.