Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pumpkin Vanilla Parfait

Smells evoke emotion.  I am  a fan of scents like vanilla, cinnamon, and just about anything else that is reminiscent of baking. I am adding humidity to my randomly heated NYC apartment by keeping a pot of water simmering on the stove with allspice in it. It adds a holiday aroma to the house plus keeping my skin hydrated (along with the 80oz+ of water I drink a day) and generating a little heat.

It is no surprise that I read an article, Eat vanilla yogurt, be happy, says research discussing scientific research on the connection between foods taste and fragrance with satisfaction. [1] Ask a foodie, we could have told you that decades ago!! There are many articles and books on the topic too.  Below you will find a recipe for a Pumpkin Vanilla Parfait will will evoke some happy, relaxing aphrodisiac. [2]

The article also discusses the satisfaction fat bring to a sense of satiety and perhaps considering it a taste sent along with bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami. (TVeg did a blog on umami back a few years ago - click to read). TVeg will investigate in a future blog. Still use non fat Greek yogurt in this recipe.  By adding your own vanilla, you reduce the amount of sugar that is found in most vanilla yogurts.  Read your labels and compare.
Visit That's Vegetarian  to prepare any one of the dishes and you'll find yourself saying "That's Vegetarian?!" 

Pumpkin Vanilla Parfait
2 c non fat plain Greek yogurt
1T vanilla
1t maple syrup (opt)
2/3 c canned or fresh pureed pumpkin
1/2 c granola
1/4 c pomegranate seeds

Mix the yogurt, vanilla, and maple syrup together. Place about 1/3 of a cup in 2 bowls or parfait glasses. Add 2 heaping T of pumpkin to each. A sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and granola. Repeat layers until complete.  

Serving size 1 1/2 cup
Serves 2
Prep time 7.5 minutes

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Happy Fall - Squash and Pumpkin Ideas

What does fall make us think of?

Pumpkins of course!!!! Pumpkin and squash are full of beta-carotene and fiber. There are many dishes we can make with pumpkins and squash like kabocha squash with adzuki beans (which That's Vegetarian made a few seasons ago) but it leaves you with A LOT of leftover squash.  What are the options for these leftovers?

My suggestions and the suggestions gathered from my Facebook, Twitter, Unleash Video and YouTube followers include:
  • Pie, candied, cheesecake, ice cream, custard
  • Mix into cottage cheese, oatmeal or yogurt
  • Soup, chili, risotto
  • Cookies, scones, muffins, cupcakes, cake
  • Latte, smoothie
  • Wontons, pot pies, ravioli 
  • Waffles, pancakes, bread (click for Pumpkin Flax Bread recipe)
  • Mashed, roasted, pan fried
  • Butter
  • Facial, body scrub
The favorite addition to the squash/pumpkin is by far MAPLE SYRUP!!!  Then cinnamon, nutmeg, and whipped cream.  Add more suggestions below! 

Here's a soup recipe that I threw together with my leftover squash.  My friend told her son it was Peanut Butter Soup.  That worked for a few bites anyway!

Pumpkin Peanut Butter Soup

Olive Oil Spray
1/2 c diced onions
1t garlic
1t Cumin*
1/4t Coriander*
1/4t Fenugreek*
1/4t Ginger*
1/4t Asafetida*
1/4t Cayenne
1/4t Celery Salt
4c Vegetable broth
4c Squash/Pumpkin, diced and roasted (400F for 25 min or until soft)
2T Peanut butter
Salt and pepper to taste. 
*Substitute 2t curry powder total for the above spices

Spray the bottom of the pot with the olive oil.  Add the onions and sauté over medium heat for about 3 minutes, until soft.  Add the garlic.  After a minute add the remaining spices and cook for about one minute.  Add broth, roasted squash/pumpkin and peanut butter.  Heat thoroughly.  Puree the soup using an immersion or regular blender.  Use caution, it will be hot.  Add more of the spices, salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve with roasted seeds sprinkled on top, and why not, a little maple syrup!!

Other options include using cinnamon and nutmeg making it more like a pumpkin pie soup.  Try adding some milk ~ cow’s milk or keep it vegan with coconut, rice or almond.  
Pumpkin Peanut Butter Soup Printable Recipe

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quick Meal That Feels Like Dessert!

Chia seed, your choice of milk and flavoring. Let it sit overnight.  
That easy.  REALLY!

Chia seeds have been a staple in countries for centuries. For many of us it is a new super food like quinoa.  The Mayans and Aztecs knew what they were doing!

Chia seeds are high in Omega 3's, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.  They are seeds, so they have fat but the good kind since it is from a vegetable source.  The fiber helps with a feeling of satiety - ability of food to satisfy.They are high in calcium, manganese, and phosphorus.  

  • Manganese - healthy bones, bone metabolism, fertility, processing of nutrients
  • Calcium - healthy bones
  • Potassium - protein building, electrolyte & fluid balance, muscular contractions, nerve impulses

The benefits are numerous. 

The outer shell of the chia seed swells, absorbing the liquid in the milk creating a pudding like texture. They are also a great replacement for eggs in recipes like flax seed but the advantage is chia seeds don't need to be ground.

Chia seed pudding is a quick and easy dessert to make that is full of the health benefits listed above. It is versatile as you can choose the flavoring you want to suit your mood.  I like making it in individual containers but you can just put in one big one and serve. I don't use any sweetener and then feel less guilty when it is a meal replacement. Adding fresh fruit or a dollop of preserves on the top can also add sweetness to the pudding. 
Share your favorite add-ins on That’s Vegetarian’s Blog.

Chia Seed Pudding
3 c cashew milk (almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, pistachio milk, regular milk)
1 T flavoring - vanilla, almond extract, amaretto, preserves...and/or3/4 t spice - pumpkin pie, cinnamon, cardamom,...1 T sweetener - maple syrup, agave syrup, honey (vary amount to taste)1/3 c chia seeds6 t preserves or fresh berries
Mix the ingredients together well.  Put in one large container and let it set in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Optional - add 3T cocoa powder to make it a chocolate pudding!
Difficulty level: easy
Serves 6

Prep Time: 10 min
Wait time: up to 4 hours

gluten free, dairy free, vegan, vegetarian

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Summer Sangria Time!!

It is the end of summer, a heat wave everywhere.  Enjoy fruit filled beverages that are light and refreshing.

Cut up a peach, grapes, strawberries, nectarines, and some watermelon. Put in a glass with some ice and add water, seltzer, or club soda for something non-alcoholic and refreshing.

Or use that fresh fruit and make sangria. Just add the fruit to a pitcher, pour a bottle of white or blush wine over so the ratio is 1/4 fruit to 3/4 wine and let it set in the fridge for 8 hours. There is no need to soak the fruit in brandy. It adds some flavor but the extra alcohol is not necessary.  I prefer a drier white like a Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio.

When serving top with a splash or seltzer or club soda.  Don't forget to put some of the fruit in the glass too!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cool Refreshing Gazpacho

I enjoy Gazpacho.  It is great on these hot, steamy humid days with a lovely glass of rosé or Albariño. I often see it on the menu and I'm usually disappointed when I order it, like last night.  I like mine to have a little bit of chunkiness to it. However, it is usually all pureed. I understand because it is easier just to puree it all instead of chopping and dicing.

Gazpacho is a traditional dish from Spain that spread to Portugal and Latin America.  They all have their own variations with adding bread or avocados and even omitting the tomatoes and having more fruit based like watermelon.  They traditionally use a mortar and pestle instead of a blender of food processor, which cause the puree to foam a bit, and a sieve for the tomatoes to get the seeds out. 
It is great summer soup because it is a soup served cold and the acidity of the tomatoes add to the refreshingness of it.  There is some prep work with dicing and chopping.  Or you can just throw it all in the food processor until completely pureed.  Your choice and it is worth it either way!
To make the soup as rich and flavorful as you can, use fresh tomatoes from your own tomato plants or gather some up at a wonderful local farmers' market.  Canned tomatoes can be more flavorful than many fresh ones you buy in your regular supermarket.  Check out this article on tomatoes.  Letting it sit longer also enhances the flavor of the soup, a minimum of 2 hours but t is still spectacular days down the road.
Visit That's Vegetarian  to prepare any one of the dishes and you'll find yourself saying "That's Vegetarian?!" 

1/2c Celery, chopped
1 Red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 Red onion, chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped
1 Cucumber, peeled and chopped
2t Hot pepper such as jalapeno, Anaheim, or Serrano, chopped
1/2c Cilantro, chopped + 12 stems for garnish
5 Tomatoes, chopped
2c Tomato juice
1 can Diced tomatoes
1 avocado cubed (opt)
2T White wine vinegar
1T avocado oil or olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1 lime wedged
Mix the celery, peppers, onion, garlic, cucumber, cilantro, and 3 of the chopped tomatoes in a large bowl. Using a regular or immersion blender or a food processor, puree the can of tomatoes. Add half of the veggie mixture to the pureed tomatoes and pulse about 5 times for 3-5 seconds each time. Add the remaining mixture and pulse another five times. Continue to blend until you get your desired texture. Pour into a bowl and mix in the tomato juice, remaining chopped tomatoes, vinegar and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chill in refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight. 

Serve with cilantro, lime wedge, avocado and/or cucumber slices.

Serving size 1 cup
Serves 6
Prep time 20 minutes
4pp (2pp if you leave out avocado)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Easy Peasy Homemade Mayonnaise

All egg whites so healthier for you.  

Just made some home made mayonnaise. If you have never had fresh mayo, it will knock your socks off. 

Blend 1 egg white (3 T liquid egg white) - but not right out of the fridge, let it warm up a bit, 1/2 t salt (I've used truffle salt, smoked salt, regular salt), 2 t cider vinegar or lemon juice, and 1/2 t dry mustard (or whatever you have in the fridge) for about 30 seconds. Slowly add, as in drizzle in, 1/3 c olive oil and 2/3 c grapeseed oil (or 1 c  mix of vegetable oil of choice - sesame, safflower, sunflower, flax, avocado) until thickened about 3 minutes. Start at a low speed and increase it a few notches. 

Takes less than 5 minutes. But do know it doesn't last as long as store bought. You only have a few days to use up. Enjoy.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Cherries - Probably my favorite summer fruit!

Anyone who knows me, knows my passion for cherries.  I will walk by the street vendors in NYC and buy 2 pounds at a time (you get a better deal).  Sometimes even twice a week.  I am worry that they will disappear without notice.  During the winter, I get the frozen ones.  Those are nice because they are sans pit.

There are two basic groups of cherries - sweet and sour. The most common sweet cherries we eat like candy include bing, black, and Ranier. The sour cherries - montmorency, are usually used for pies and fruit sauces. It is challenging to find the sour cherries.  The sour cherries are slightly lower on the glycemic load index therefore raising your blood glucose a little less than the sweet ones.

Both groups are full of health benefits, however the sour cherries are more abundant in the quantity of the nutrients.  The benefits can be obtained from cherry juice as well but keep in moderation as cherries are high in sugar to begin with and in the juice you are not getting the advantages of the fiber.  A few benefits include:

  • Antioxidants - vitamins A & C, melatonin,  and beta carotene, which help fight the free radicals in the body which can damage and destroy cells. 
  • Anti-inflammatory and increased memory effects because of the abundance of anthocyanins. 
  • Anti-carcinogenic properties due to quercetin 
  • Contain the minerals magnesium, iron, folate, potassium, boron, and fiber.

The best recipe I have for fresh cherries is to rinse and eat.  Much easier than trying to cut around the pit or using a cherry pitter.  Frozen cherries - put in yogurt or ricotta cheese to make a deliciously sweet breakfast and add a little amaretto and slivered almonds.   Also, puree the frozen cherries in a blender or food processor for a sorbet like dessert.  Perfect for the end of summer.

Antiodxidant-fruits. 2009. Web. 09 Aug 2015.
Berkeley Wellness. Remedy Health Media, UC Berkeley. 2015. Web. 09 Aug 2015.
Self Nutrition Data. CondeNaste, 2014. Web. 09 Aug 2015. and

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ice Cube Trays - 5 Tips for an Indispensable Kitchen Gadget for Preventing Food Waste!

Are you thinking ice cube trays, really???? And the answer is yes.  Using the ice cube trays to freeze things helps prevent waste which is good for the environment and your pocket book.  I know this list is endless.  Once the liquid is frozen, remove them an place them into plastic bags or other container in your freezer so you have empty trays to reuse.  Remember to label the containers as you will forget what is in there.  I forget all the time!
  1. Coffee and Tea - Make a little extra coffee and tea.  Put it in the freezer in the ice cube trays.  Add it to your coffee and tea without watering it down. Or into some Bailey's or Amaretto.
  2. Wine - In those rare cases you have some left, it does freeze. I know from the bottle I accidentally left in there!  You can then add it to your recipes without it being "off".
  3. Milk (cow, soy, almond, cashew, etc) - I never use milk fast enough. It inevitably goes bad.  I'll freeze it in water bottles or other containers to reuse at a later date.  Know that the consistency of the non-dairy milks may change a bit and will require more mixing to combine
    the particles that have separated in the freezing/thawing process. I have also started putting them in ice cube trays to then put in a frozen smoothie, an orange julius type drink we made growing up, or even iced coffee.  Add some vanilla, chocolate, or other flavoring before freezing too!
  4. Fruit - I have been freezing fruit before it goes bad. Happens quickly especially when you get if from the vendors on the streets in NYC.  You can freeze them whole or put some in the ice cube trays with some water to add to water or tea or wine for a different flavor.
  5. Flowers and herbs  - freeze them in water, edible flowers such as lavender and the flowers when basil and mint blossom.  Add them to water or seltzer.  What's Cooking America has a very comprehensive list.
Have more suggestions not on the list?  Add to it in the comments below and share!!

Orange Julius (Orange July haha)

6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate (or other frozen juices)
1 c water
1/2 c milk (substitute 6 milk ice cubes, heavy cream, almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 c sugar (or less or powdered sugar, I find it sweet enough with the concentrated oj and less liquid)
10 ice cubes

Additions I have experimented with that change it up you can add in addition to the basic recipe...
3T egg white opt (caution when using raw egg products for salmonella and other possible illnesses, use a pasteurized egg white product.)**
1/8 c vanilla protein powder opt
1/8 T hemp, flax, or chia seeds

I just add all the ingredients to the blender and go.  The simpler the better.  Crush the ice to desired consistency.

Serves 4


Monday, July 27, 2015

Fueling Your Body and Soul

It is amazing how what energy we put into our body makes us feel both. Energy is not only in the form of calories but emotional, spiritual, and physical too.

Normally, I wake up. Have about 16 oz. of water to re-hydrate myself before I do anything else. Exercising first thing in the morning usually sets me on a path of 90% smart food and drink choices for the day. It helps my attitude too because my body feels good.

fuel your heart literally and metaphoricallyYesterday, I did not fuel myself well.  It was a bad vegetarian day. Doughnut and coffee for breakfast.  Mind you it was an amazing, well-made minimal preservative doughnut from Sullivan Bakery and it was Peet’s coffee.  This was before my first glass of water.  Lunch wasn’t much better but I did manage to get some sugar snap peas in.  I swam a mile, ate some cheese and olives and then rode my bike about 4 miles. 

I managed to fuel my soul with going to a Make-a-Wish wish granting event. An Italian boy wanted to perform a rock concert in a club with his brother in NYC as his wish.  There were a good 50 people there.  It is such a great organization and it was wonderful to see the support.  They boys did a great job.  You could see the excitement in their faces. (Also, on Saturday, I volunteered for Make-a-Wish was part of the Urban Mudder on Randall's Island.)

Then, dinner was chips and guacamole with a margarita and a half. (The margarita blog is on its way, sit tight.) They were all made with fresh ingredients, no preservatives, and no corn syrup.  I had plenty of water throughout the day and Blood Orange Iced Tea from Harney & Sons.  The choices of better quality ingredients and the liquids probably did make me feel less cruddy than I do this morning.

The food intake the day before is leading to a sluggish start to the day. Fueling myself with water, fruit, and yogurt to get on the right track today along with my morning exercise and stretching.  Remember what you do put in your body does affect the way you feel physically and mentally. I want to begin and end each day knowing I am the happiest healthiest me I can be.

Quick recipe tip of the day – Add frozen fruit to your non-fat or low-fat plain yogurt.  As it defrosts, the fruit naturally sweetens the yogurt.  You get a lot of flavor, protein, calcium, and no extra calories from added sugars and no artificial sweeteners.  Cost saving and environmentally friendly tip is to buy the large container of yogurt and portion servings into reusable containers.