Friday, February 27, 2009

Needing kindness, giving kindness

I had a recipe lined up for today, but in light of something that happened yesterday, Foodie Friday will actually be postponed for Feelin' Good Friday.

I'd like to preface all this a little further by making sure that you know that the reason I like to offer people information related to nutrition and wellness is because I'd love, and I expect you would too, if the world was generally a healthier happier place, right? And you also know, of course, that if you want to improve the state of things in the world you've really gotta look after yourself first/all the while, yes? And to that end, I've taken what I've learned on my own path, and in consulting with clients, and written a book (which is not enough to live on, for the record, at least at this point) that will hopefully help others, maybe you, make more body-, earth- and animal-friendly choices. I also made a few food prep videos to go up on YouTube to help people see just how easy this whole foods cooking thing can be (which, by the way, was quite costly with $400 camera rental, etc).
Okay, so with all that in mind, I'll proceed.

I went over to my YouTube account yesterday to check things out, and to my horror discovered that someone, about 3 weeks ago, had posted a really abrasive comment after my Blueberry Green Drink video saying something nasty about my physical appearance and that I shouldn't be speaking about health publicly if I wasn't in whatever his version of "top shape" is. I was pretty blown away, and of course deleted the comment as fast as I could. Then, surprisingly, in that same morning someone else posted under my Flax Maple Cookies "get it ripe - lame". WTF?!!!?!!?

If I wasn't racing out the door this morning I would take more time to talk about the issue of anonymity on the internet and how people seem to feel free to post such hateful things when they think that no one knows who they are. (Of course I'm not the only target, one of millions likely or more - just look at the homophobic comments under Sean Penn's Oscar Acceptance Speech vid.) I guess we have to look at how people are raised too often in environments where kind and skillful behaviour just really isn't modeled and encouraged.

Anyhow lovely readers, if I might humbly ask this of you, perhaps today you could click your way over here, especially if you haven't seen my cooking videos before, and say a little something nice (as you're inspired to do so) that'd cleanse my YouTube pages of all that negativity. I think you may need a YouTube account yourself to comment, so if you don't have/want one, maybe you might pass the word onto someone you know who does. I would hugely HUGELY appreciate your kindness!
(A bunch of people already left notes on my facebook wall about this which, I'll tell ya, totally helped to shift all this to a place where I knew not to take it personally.)

Enjoy your weekend, eat some good nourishing food, breathe through your nose, smile and laugh when you're inspired to do so (and even sometimes when you're not) and remember to come back for the soup recipe next week!

xoxoxo jae
Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vegan TexMex - yeehaw!

The Book: Hot Damn and Hell Yeah: Recipes for Hungry Banditos by Ryan Splint/The Dirty South by Vanessa Johnson (Microcosm Publishing, 2007)
Review by Roxanna Bennett

Overall feeling: I stumbled upon this unique cookbook from independent publisher Microcosm while searching the interweb for vegan Mexican recipes. Part of my never ending quest to sneak vegan food into my omnivore boyfriend's mouth while he's not looking involves reworking most of his favourite foods into vegan versions. I was immediately attracted to the bright red cover with the hand drawn skeleton in a sombrero leering out from beneath the title. What I didn't realize when I bought the book is that it is actually two books in one, halfway through Hot Damn and Hell Yeah you flip it backward and upside down and voila, you have The Dirty South, a totally separate cookbook. I like the zine/handmade feel of both books although I am more partial to the skeleton illustrations and the type treatment throughout Hot Damn and Hell Yeah.
These books are pretty much the opposite of whole food nutritious cookbooks. As Splint says in his introduction "What it's about is food without obscure ingredients, that's Bourbon Whiskey BBQ Sauce, Country Fried Tofu, Biscuits and Gravy are just some of the southern styled recipes that don't exactly scream holistic health. Both books are intent on creating veganized versions of traditional southern recipes that are heavy on spices, hang the health factor. As it says on the cover of The Dirty South, 'Eat More Grease'".

Best bits: I love Tex-Mex so I'm all fired up to try the many burrito and enchilada recipes. The Sweet Potato Pie recipe is ridiculously decadent and recipes for homey food like Hush Puppies and Johnny Cakes make me hanker for a sunny day in the south with a bottle of tequila on hand. Staples like Beans and Rice as well as several different chili recipes make it easy to entertain large crowds with relatively little effort. There are recipes in both books for Mushroom Gravy and for several different kinds of BBQ sauce; it's easy to imagine even the most hardcore meat-eater tucking into a tofu sloppy joe smothered in gravy.

Less-wonderful bits: You'd probably have a heart attack in short order if you lived on this kind of diet, especially when most recipes call for a slathering of gravy. Some of the recipes in The Dirty South don't even have measurements, you're meant to make it up as you go along which I don't like, what's the point of having a cookbook to guide you if it only asks you to improvise? That seems like cheating to me. There are a number of recipes in both books that seemed tacked on and have nothing to do with the Southern theme; there is a Vietnamese recipe in Hot Damn and Hell Yeah while in The Dirty South there are a number of Ethiopian recipes. I'm sure the food is delicious, but it feels like the authors are trying to fill up pages with out of place recipes.

Whole foods focus?: No way, Jose.
Vegan-friendly?: Absolutely.
Eco-conscious?: Not so much.
Web presence?: yup

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Because we need a rainbow

... Especially at this time of year when the days are grey more often than not.

Dragon Bowl

Lots of colours on our plates are visually stimulating, but the variety also suggests that your getting a broader range of micronutrients to fuel your bod. In this case, we also get a beautiful blend of flavours. Many of these ingredients (except for the greens) can still be found locally this time of year. I like the contract of the warm cooked grains and tempeh with all the raw veggies and sprouts. The ingredients listed below are in rough per-person measurements.

1/2 to 1 cup cooked grain (brown rice, millet, quinoa)
1-2 good handfuls chopped romaine lettuce or baby spinach
1 handful finely shredded red cabbage
1 handful spiralized red beet
1/2 medium carrot, grated
a few pieces marinated and grilled tempeh*
1 small handful sunflower or mung bean sprouts
1 tbsp brown and/or black sesame seeds
1/3 recipe Dragon Sauce (see below), or to taste

In a decent eating-sized bowl, layer the ingredients in the order they're listed. (No hard and fast rules, it's up to you.) Enjoy!

Dragon Sauce
The sweetness of this recipe compliments the tempeh and veggies quite nicely.
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp. filtered water
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients with a handblender, or in a blender or food processor. Makes enough for 3 Dragon Bowls. Store any leftovers in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

* To prepare the tempeh I just slice it however I want, splash on some tamari and a pressed clove of garlic and fry it up in some coconut oil until browned on both sides.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pack yer bags, and be sure to bring yer VAGG!

The Book: Vegan a Go-Go! by Sarah Kramer (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)

Preamble/Overall feeling: How It All Vegan! was my first vegan cookbook. I got it when I was still only vegetarian, and thought that veganism mostly just sounded cool. It is Arsenal Pulp Press's bestselling book to date. Being that APP is my publisher too, I can only dream that Get It Ripe will someday come in second place. After co-authoring a second book, and then flying solo for La Dolce Vegan, Sarah Kramer now gives us VAGG.
Last Fall, I actually had the pleasure of traveling with Sarah (we were both speaking at the Boston Veg Fest and shared a hotel room), so when she says in this book - a "best-of" compilation with 36 mini-pages of intro and travel tips - to bring a plastic neti pot, and that there's no shame in wheeling around a huge suitcase, I can confirm that it's what she does herself. (I, on the other hand, am of the mentality that packing light is cool, but am not naturally a light-packer by any means which results in broken zippers on over-stuffed bags and any extras acquired on the trip having to be carried in additional bags - what a headache! Not to mention it rules out any of the initially aimed for potential of looking smooth. Just for kicks go read Sarah's account of our trip here.)

Best bits: This is, hands down, Sarah's best book. Can I say that? Her famously peppy personality shines through, with photographs of her throughout the book (this girl is not camera shy in the least!). It is just the cutest size, and the design (including the symbols "New Recipe", "Quick and Easy", "Travels Well", "Will Impress" and "Needs Special Ingredients") is great. I believe it's also Arsenal Pulp's only full-colour book (lucky duck!). The travel tips are sensible, and very refreshing for those of us who are non-animal-product-eating and/or don't have oodles of cash to lay down for convenience (and tonnes of restaurants) when we're out of town.

Less-wonderful bits: We are not going for haute cuisine here, folks, just so you know. The ingredients are mostly limited to what you can find at a grocery store, so while the recipes get top marks for simplicity, they can only be so nutritious thanks to the limited views of food imposed on us by the purchasers at said stores. As the quality of the ingredients in the recipes aren't specified, it could really be hit or miss on the how-good-they-are-for-you front. Make a recipe with white flour, GMO hydrogenated margarine, and table salt or make it with whole spelt flour, organic non-hydrogenated marg or olive oil, and sea salt, and nutritionally it's a different story, y'know?

Whole foods focus?: Somewhat.
Vegan-friendly?: 100 percent!
Eco-conscious?: In that it promotes and animal product-free lifestyle.
Web presence?: yup.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Freezer tarts and chocolate hearts

Sending some sweet love for this weekend, especially to those of you who're gluten-free! I know it's not Friday, but posting today gives you time to pick up any needed groceries before Saturday.
(Before we go any further though, I'd just like to thank you all for your recent comments - I do love hearing from you!)

Live Lime Pie

You'll forgive me for the rustic look of this tart, I could have made a prettier second batch for photographing this weekend, but I don't think you'd want to have to wait till next week for a recipe like this one! These raw treats are only slightly adapted from a recipe by my friend and colleague Julie Daniluk from her debut book Meals that Heal Inflammation. Be sure to zest your lime before you slice it open for juicing!

1 cup raw walnuts and/or cashews
1 cup shredded coconut (plus a little extra for garnish)
1/2 cup packed pitted dates (they need to be soft like fresh honey dates or medjool dates)
1/4 sea salt
3 avocados (not overripe)
1/2 cup raw agave nectar and/or raw honey
3 tbsp. lime juice (from 1 or 2 limes)
1 tsp. finely grated organic lime zest (from 1 lime)

Put the nuts and coconut in a food processor and pulse to a coarse meal. Add the dates and salt and whirl again until you get a uniform mixture that begins to stick together. Transfer this mixture into a 9 or 10-inch pie plate, or portion evenly into a dozen muffin cups. Press the mixture to make a compact crust using your fingers or the back of a spoon (or both). Slide it into the freezer for 15 minutes to set.
Rinse out the bowl of the food processor so it's ready to use again. Put the avocado flesh, agave nectar or honey, lime juice and zest in the food processor and whirl until smooth. Remove the crust(s) from the freezer and pour this creemy filling into it, ,smoothing it out as desired, and sprinkling with some shredded coconut if you like. Return to the freezer to set for at least 15 minutes. You may defrost them for 10 minutes before serving if you like. To remove the tarts from the muffin tray, simply run a paring knife around the edge and they should release with ease.

Makes 1 pie (about 8-12 servings) or 12 little tarts and about 1/2 cup leftover lime mousse. Store any leftovers in the freezer.


Gluten Freedom Love Bites

The trick to gluten-free baking really is a blend of various flours. The banana and coconut oil add lovely tropical fruity notes to these little love cookies.

1/2 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/3 cup amaranth flour
1/3 cup corn or tapioca flour
1/2 tsp grey or pink sea salt
1/2 ripe banana
1/3 cup fair-trade cocoa powder
1/2 cup non-hydrogenated coconut oil (recommended) and/or sunflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1/2 raw cacao nibs (optional - you could also use finely chopped nuts)

Preheat the oven to 350oF. Line 2 baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk together the flours, cocoa powder and salt in a large bowl. Mash the banana in a medium bowl and then cream it with the oil and syrup using a silicone spatula until a uniform mixture is achieved (it's okay if you can still see like beads of coconut oil). Scrape this mixture into the bowl of flours, add the cacao nibs and stir just until all the flour has been absorbed.
Portion the dough by the heaping-tablespoonful out onto the prepared baking sheets. I choose to form some of them into hearts with my fingers, but is you can find your collection of heart-shaped cookie cutters, by all means, use them (though you may still want to manipulate each one to give it a personal touch).
Slide in the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until tops look relatively dry (be sure not to overbake them!). Allow to cool completely on a rack before storing in an airtight container.

Makes 30 smaller cookies.


PS. Remember the culinary Valentine paraphernalia I mentioned 2 years ago? I predict they're going to be dusted off Saturday morning. You know, now that Ryan and I live together and all, I don't think he needs to pretend he doesn't believe in romantic gestures anymore. I'll let you know how it goes!

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Friday, February 06, 2009

A sweet use for amaranth

Pear Ginger Amaranth Crumble

I’m more of a crumble person than a pie person myself, as long as the crumble top is the right balance of flour and rolled grains. Always looking to include nutritious amaranth in a recipe, I find the grains add a nice texture. And the pear and ginger – need it be said that they complement each other so nicely?

Fruit bottom
5 largish pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tbsp. amaranth
1 tbsp. whole grain flour (like oat flour)
1 tsp - 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger root (mild - spicey, you decide)

Crumble top
1/3 cup non-hydrogenated coconut oil or non-dairy margarine (like Earth Balance)
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole grain flour (like oat flour)
1/2 cup Sucanat or organic sugar
1 tbsp. amaranth
½ tsp. freshly grated ginger or 1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. sea salt (use only 1/4 tsp. if you used margarine)

Preheat the oven to 350oF.
Gently toss the pears with the amaranth, flour and ginger root in a 2 - 2.5 litre baking dish using a silicone spatula. Whisk the oats, flour, sugar, amaranth, ginger and salt in a medium bowl, then cut in the oil or marg. It should be kind of clumpy.
Spread crumble over prepared fruit and bake for about 40 minutes, until fruit is soft (poke a knife in to see). If the top is paler than you’d like, turn the oven to broil and brown, but only for about 3 minutes – and be careful to keep a good eye on it because it can quickly burn.
Serve warm, maybe with a drizzle of coconut milk.

Makes about 6 servings.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

You can believe it, because it's true.

The Book: You Won't Believe It's Vegan!: 200 Recipes for Simple and Delicious Animal-Free Cuisine by Lacey Sher and Gail Doherty (DaCapo Press, 2008)

Overall feeling: Last summer there was a syndicated review circulating the Associated Press of my book and two others, one of which was this one. The reviewer said: "Well, with recipes such as raw cashew aioli and tofu hot wings, you probably will believe it. But that doesn't mean you won't like it. Sher and Doherty offer some inventive and appealing takes on vegan cooking." The quote really cracks me up, because I know how conventional eaters are about "alternative" diets, and I know what the authors meant, which is what many of us are trying to prove: that vegan eating can be delicious and nutritious. (With coverage like this, is it really still an issue? Sigh....)

Best bits: You can tell that the authors are professionally trained chefs (training I envy quite frankly - they attended the Natural Gourmet School in NYC) by the amount of creativity in the recipes and the culinary techniques they use (I can think of a few people in my life who'd get nervous if you asked them to dredge something - only because they wouldn't be sure what it meant). And to that end, I have great confidence that any recipe I made from the book would turn out as promised. There's a well-rounded selection of everyday recipes (tofu scramble, veg stock, black bean soup, peanut sauce, mushroom gravy, "eggless salad", Earth Burger, tofu cheesecake, chocolate and vanilla cakes) and those that are more culinarily adventurous (like Coconut Seitan, Samosas, White Bean Crepes with Balsamic Grilled Tempeh and Basil "Butter", homemade Rosemary Spelt Gnocchi!).
I love that they have a whole 20 pages of Live Foods complete with raw cheeses, pizza, nachos, maki rolls, raw granola, and raw lemon pie. They also have a little section for feeding kids at the back, which it great, and I hope vegan parents who have the book use it as their suggestions are all nutritionally sound (though I would go for other nut butters over peanut butter).

Less-wonderful bits: The personality of the authors doesn't really shine through for me, but I don't think it's a big deal as many of us don't need to feel the urge to become BFFs with the authors of their culinary go-to books. I'm assuming neither of them are big bakers, as I don't think I've ever seen a vegan cookbook with just one muffin recipe (no matter really, there are lots of other vegan cookbooks to fill in the blanks). There are some recipes that call for "Florida Crystals" - and it took a bit of searching to discover it's just a brand name for evaporated cane juice (so, I wonder, why not just say "evaporated cane juice"?). If I were to get really picky I'd comment on the samey-ness of the food photography (two pics on one page, both with red cabbage garnish; same white square plate used in 5 of the 9 recipes), but really, don't get me wrong, they're still nice photos.

Whole foods focus?: Sure.
Vegan-friendly?: 100 percent!
Eco-conscious?: In that it's vegan.
Web presence?: I couldn't find one.

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"Domestic affair... do you think it's a funny title?" I asked a friend.
"Funny ha-ha?" she responded, "well, no not really."
"But 'domestic affair', it's like what's going on in the nation, but it's also me, being drawn to all these domestic tasks - knitting, cooking, caring for small children..." I tried to explain.
"I like that it has the word affair in it," she concluded.

jae's first book!

Get It Ripe cover Have you seen my award-winning whole foods cookbook Get It Ripe: a fresh take on vegan living (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2008)? Keep your eyes peeled for it!
To join the Facebook group for the book, go here.


about the blog:

about the cookbooks:

While I love hearing from you, and read each and every one of your e-mails, please understand that I just cannot respond to all of them due to the rate at which they're coming in these days!

If you have a question, I might have already answered it here.

in the press

live in person!

come see me:
* Vida Vegan Con in Portland, OR, August 26-28, 2011.

...but better yet, check the calendar for details!



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