Our idea of what constitutes "food" in American culture has become so skewed that it is almost unrecognizable. Our supermarkets are packed with products whose ingredients include unpronounceable chemicals, dyes, bacteria, and growth hormones. They are irradiated without our consent and contain GMOs.It's time to bring back FOOD. Pure unadulterated organic RAW food.This blog is a documentation of my continuing journey on a plant-based lifestyle.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Milky's Vegan Fro-yo

   Dear Foodies,

        It's Monday, and I'm ready to review- as promised in my last post.

On Saturday Kev and I took a little trip to the darling little Jewish neighborhood of "So-Ro" or South Robertson (I half love/hate how every neighborhood in  So Cal (see..) is abbreviated now, like South Robertson is just sooo impossibly long that we have to shorten it or something. ?) in LA to indulge in what we hoped would be some tush-kicking fro-yo.

I should mention that Milky's fro-yo is ALL gluten-free, parve, and kosher. Yips!

Ohhh Milky's, how you delivered and more! Creamy, delicious, subtlety sweet, and surprisingly not permeated by the overwhelming taste of soy. Bleh.

Yes, I conveniently ignored forgot that in the list of ingredients that was emailed to me, soy milk was used. And it was only after looking at the card on the ice cream machine that I realized that it did contain soy.

Honestly, I'm not opposed to soy as long as it's organic. However, if you've been a veggie for quite some time now, you understand that soy often becomes the dominant 'flavor', if you will, when used in ice creams or yogurts...a flavor that I personally, am not too fond of.  As a raw vegan, I typically avoid soy in all forms anyway, but for Milky's and hello, fro-yo? I was willing to make an exception.

On the day we went there were four vegan flavors: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Berry, and Original. And two non-dairy sorbets: Mango and Coconut.

I got the ginormous sized fro-yo cup, because obvi. I planned on loading up, duh. And began my trip to sweet fro-yo land!

Unfortunately, the peanut butter was sold out. And the man at the front was seemingly MIA (I think he was trying to fix something in the bathroom..?) so I wasn't able to ask what made the sorbets only non-diary vs. the fro-yo that was vegan. I tried the chocolate first and was pleasantly surprised. Chocolate yogurt always seems like a great idea in theory, but often does not deliver upon consumption. This chocolate fro-yo was delish! In fact, they all were!  The texture was very smooth and perhaps this is a characteristic of fro-yo that I was unaware of, but it was actually quite pillow-y and light -- it just melted in your mouth. As I said above, it was not clawing-ly sweet but, each flavor could stand on it's own and definitely had a lovely deep/rich quality about it.

The toppings bar had a few vegan options like vegan graham cracker crumbles, almonds, vegan chocolate carob chips,and vegan grape nuts and an array of fruit. I was just pleased to see that they offered anything! Also, I believe they use Newman's Own Oreos, but I would triple check on that one. Perhaps, if desperate, you could bring your own, which isn't a bad idea.. The fruit I would say needed a little help. The mango was very unripe and they are definitely using frozen fruit vs. fresh, but as it is a choice - I could have just not gotten any at all, but alas, I did.


I opted for the original and the berry and topped my fro-yo with kiwis, raspberries, and strawberries. It was the perfect combination! My husband, got a swirl of chocolate and original and topped his with vegan graham cracker crumbles and carob chips. Nom nom nom, for sure! Graham cracker + chocolate = couldneverEVERtastebad. It reminds me of those banana and chocolate pudding pies with the graham cracker crust that I used to make pre-vegan.

The price? .39 cents per pound and our total came out to about $14 dollars. From what I have seen, that's about standard for fro-yo and considering the weight of the fruit I put on, it makes sense.

 Overall, Milky's is a hella awesome addition to our ever expanding bubble of vegan delights in the LA metro area!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Thursday. A mere hurdle between the weekdays and the freedom of the weekend. In my case, a tiny barricade that stands between me and vegan fro-yo.

Oh yes, you heard right: V E G A N  F R O- Y O!! 

It's also Kevin's birthday weekend and we're going to see the Pasadena Pops, but let's be real here. All either of us care about is engaging in some serious fro-yo top-it-as-you-like-buffet GO KRAY action. Hey, YOLO right?

Legit, I have been saying for the last year how unfair it is that there are no vegan 'pink-berry' type shops anywhere for us vegans to pop into and satisfy our yearnings for something cold, and ice-creamy that isn't a home spun banana concoction. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of banana ice cream, but sometimes you just want someone else to do the dirty work. And I'm a total sucker for anything buffet. 

Behold: ::cue angelic music::

Allegedly, their flavors range from your standard variety of chocolate and vanilla to seasonal flavors like PUMPKIN PIE and COOKIE DOUGH. I'm drooling. There are puddles. And to make it all that more enticing, I emailed the company because I'm a control freak to ask what exactly is in this magical fro-yo and within a day I received a response that made me love them that much more: It is rice milk-based with no oil, salt, or refined sugar and they don't use any honey. BaZnGa! (We're watching a lot of Big Bang Theory these days, can you tell??) They are also kosher, parve and the vegan toppings bar/fro-yo is separate from the conventional diary fro-yo section. 

With the kind of reviews they have been getting consistently on Yelp, I can't see how they could disappoint. I shall update this post with a review after I sample Milky's Vegan Fro-yo. 

(Milky's is located on 1429 S. Robertson Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90035. All pictures of aforementioned company are from www.milkysyogurt.com and not my own.)  

Crawling out of my fro-yo stupor ::ahem:: 

 So, my husband is very much a dedicated vegan (and my recipe guinea pig!) but, he really isn't into the raw thing. He dabbles, but since we don't eat high fat raw gourmet anymore anyway, the chances of him eating that type of raw food on his own are virtually nonexistent. Other than salads/fruit, or my occasional dehydrated low fat savory or sweet concoction - he pretty much sticks to cooked food. I would say he follows something along the lines of a McDougall or Fuhrman lifestyle-- high carb, cooked vegan, but with high fruit. That means, unless he is eating out, it's no oil or salt. However, sometimes we break the rules a bit and include Diaya vegan cheeze - still much healthier than regular cheese and the 'healthiest' of the vegan cheezes. Plus, it's soy-free and gluten-free which is always a plus! 

Enter: Vegan Mexican Stuffed Pepper

Stuffed Peppers were always one of my favourites as a kid. My Mim used to make them with ground beef and brown rice and they would steep in homemade marinara and I would eat them up with much delight. 

I was inspired by Mim's stuffed peppers to make my own equally delicious version, but spice it up! After all, it is California in the summer - what better way to put a spin on an old favourite than to make it Mexican! 

My vegan stuffed peppers are just as good, sans the beef and rice! I loaded mine with tons of vegetables: grape tomatoes,corn, kale, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, a bit of jalapeno pepper- all organic. You can really use whatever you like. I chopped up all the veg, sprinkled it with a bit of lemon-pepper, and stuffed it inside an extra large farmers market red pepper. Then I topped it off with Diaya and let it melt to perfection in the oven. It only takes a few minutes to melt so the veggies still retain both freshness and crunch! 

We are not a household that enjoys mushy veg.! Unless that mushy veg happens to be of the potato variety.. 

 Mmm, mid-melt stuffed pepper. (Nearly burned my eyebrows off trying to get this shot as the pepper was still in the oven! All for the love of a future blog post!) 

Kev devoured this! It has a bit of spice, the flavor of the veg really comes through, and the Diaya adds a nice touch of creaminess. You could always top yours with some chopped cilantro afterwards or maybe even some guac if that's your thing. 

You could also not stuff it into a pepper. You could wrap it in a tortilla! We buy these: 

Huzzah! Gluten-free, organic corn, and no-salt! They don't even fall apart! They are the shiz! 

Ahhh, don't you just love versatility in a recipe? Just makes life so much easier! 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not

   Shock of the century, I'M BLOGGING! It's been what, six months? Yikes! I'm always thinking about this blog though and how I wish I had more time to update. Then I think about my bloggie friends with kids who seem to update very regularly and I feel like a total slacker...even though I'm totally not.

 I do make a conscious effort to update via Instgram on both facebook and twitter and typically post recipes (ingredients at the very least) on both venues. So, if I am not actively blogging you can always find my stuff there.

On with it!

I happen to work for some very wonderful people, who, empathizing with my situation (my husband living in CA and me living in NYC) gave me off for the summer. So, I left sweaty, muggy, hot as hell-ation NYC for good ol'Cali-forn-i-a. (It's still hot as hell here too, but only during the day. And if it means I get red-headed 'tan' then I'll take it. A little buckets of sweat never hurt anyone..but, no really, I'm tan!)

My most favourite thing about California is well, the food, of course! And by food, I mean produce. The figs are plump, chewy, and taste like jelly doughnuts. The watermelons, so juicy - like pink sugar. And the tomatoes, the most indescribably savory delicious morsels I could ever hope to indulge in! Don't mind if I do!

I honestly look forward to each meal- no variety? Restrictive? Say what?!

My cornucopia of produce options, if you will, really got me thinking about the ethics of food; one man's trash is another man's treasure. I say this because in America, fruits and veg are not often looked upon with high esteem. We chuck produce that isn't perfect. We eat green bananas and throw away the spotty ones. Tomatoes all year round. Often NYC produce is shotty at best and quality is lacking.

My zucchini is bland. My cucumbers taste stale. Our farmers markets are horrid, with virtually no organic stands. (And I've asked, they spray, unlike here in California where even if they are not organic in name, their farming practices are.)

So what's a raw vegan got to do to get some real food around here?? (...or there, yeah.) If I want food that tastes the way it should, I have to trek all the way down to the East Village to the Fourth Street Co-op and I gladly do, when I can find the time. I'm all about supporting my local farmers, especially organic farmers. And you should too. Remember: no farmers, no food! Plus, they always have a bin of discounted goodies and I'm alllll about those. But most people aren't willing to go to the extent.

Otherwise, I wait and eat bland tomatoes booo until I can get my hands on produce that dear lord was picked maybe 24 hours previous to me buying it. What better gift is there than that??

My point, we're damn lucky to even have the option at all. 

I'll admit, I'm obvi. a produce snob at this point. As a person who exists entirely on a plant-based diet I want my food to taste the best! However, the best doesn't always mean the most beautiful. I say, give me your overly spotted bananas and squishy bursting tomatoes! Your blemished peaches and your wrinkly peppers! I'll take it all!

Yup, that's right.

I see nothing wrong with a few bruises here and there. Now, rotting, well, that's a different story and a gift you should give to the compost pile instead. But, so what if your peach has a dent. It will still taste just as sweet and delicious! I promise! Maybe even better!!

In December, I watched this special on Food Network about what happens to all the dented, blemished food that people consider "bad". It was so troubling to see just how much gets thrown out in this country when we have so many starving people in this country and even more in other countries, where some would fight to the death for a lick of what we dispose of.

A few weeks ago I read a story about North Korea and how dastardly the living conditions are over there. One man recounted a story about a couple of young kids in a work camp who where shoveling cow poo. Upon shoveling, they discovered a few kernels of corn that a cow had obviously passed. The man said that the boys didn't even think twice as they picked up the kernels, washed them off and ate them.

I'm sorry, I know that is repulsive, but it made me think twice about how much I really take for granted the bounty of options I have before me - and I would consider myself a pretty aware person when it comes to the ongoing food crisis both in and outside of America. I mean, I'm pretty granola!

As a vegan, I get to CHOOSE my lifestyle. I can shun meat, diary, and other animal products. I can turn my nose up to processed foods and the junk that people somehow rationalize as 'ok to consume'. But trust me, I am not naive - I am well aware of the fact that all of us who get to choose to be vegans are lucky that we even have the choice at all. So, if fruits and veg and nuts and seeds and the like are my chosen fuel then i'll eat them in whatever form they come - dented, bruised, blemished, whatever. (Once again, let me be clear, ROTTING is not safe and you should never eat rotting food. And I am by no means advocating you should consume rotting food because there are starving children who could possibly eat it...lol.)

Luckily, in California I am fortunate enough to live a mere 4-5 miles away from a glorious Organic farm, Tanaka Farms in Irvine. They have the best corn I have ever tasted in my life. It has so much flavor- very sweet and since they pick it every day there is never that starchy quality that often befits raw corn. Hands down, the best.  And if not Tanaka, than it's the Saturday morning farmers market at UCI. California overall is farmers market bombed! We're hella lucky here on the West coast, NYC - not so much.

Ultimately, after watching the Food Network special I vowed that I would always use up my produce in some fashion- wrinkly or wilted be damned - I shall not waste. I've learned not to buy more than I am positive I can eat. And I always use the most ripe fruits or veg first.

See, there are just so many things you can do with produce on the fritz. My soup-hating husband consumed bowls of the organic veggie soup (pictured above) that I made this past fall with all veg. that was on the way out. And last week, I made a melange of curry roasted veg with cauliflower mash (pictured below), once again - all ish that needed to be used up before we went on vacation.

 I think it would behoove us all if we looked a little more closely at what we so readily dispose of and deem 'unsuitable' simply because it isn't as appealing to the eye. We need to start thinking beyond our own trash cans and more so, our own lives.

The more time I spend in California vs. NYC the more I am aware of my impact on the world and how even though I am only one singular person, I can still do my own little things to help the environment and create less waste. Even if it is as silly as saving my cilantro sprigs to be juiced instead of throwing them in the trash... 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Winner Winner There Ain't No Chicken in MY Dinner!

::Slaps wrist:: I know, I know. My lax blogging is inexcusable! Sorry folks, often real life (like my full time real job) often takes over and I am just too damn tired at night to put forth the energy for a  post that I feel is worthy; not to mention the annoyance of only being able to blog from my laptop since you cannot upload photos on from the IPad to the blog.

Anyway, I am here, I am back. Let's get down to business, shall we?

Cucumber pasta! God, I just really love the stuff. You can legit top cucumber pasta with anything and it is guaranteed to taste amazing! Seriously, even the most simple combination like 1/4 an avocado, lemon juice, and diced tomatoes is the bomb! No salt, oil, or spices needed! Avocados are creamy and unctuous, lemon juice provides the acid to pump up the flavor of the avocado and well, tomatoes are just natures little gifts of flavor-popping goodness. It was kind of insane, once I eliminated salt and spices from my diet, all my fruits and vegetables started to have more dynamic and robust flavors. You are going to think I am cray-cray, but even zucchini started to taste creamy and sweet to me!

Personally, my most beloved cucumber pasta sauce is the one below: mango, sliver of red pepper, yellow grape tomatoes, celery, basil, and a sprinkle of fresh thyme.

Looks disturbingly similar to real pasta, no? 

Sometimes, I throw in cilantro or to make it more hearty I like adding in salt-free, un-sulphered, sun dried tomatoes.

So, you might be wondering, "Where the heck is the zucchini pasta in all of this?? I thought raw vegans were allllllllll about the zucchini pasta?!" And well, we are. I truly LOVE zucchini pasta, but unfortunately, it really doesn't love me back - anymore! It is the weirdest thing, honestly. And I am quite perplexed by it. All summer I ate zucchini pasta. Zucchini tasted so delicious to me that I was eating it nearly everyday, much like my cucumber pasta. Uhh ohhh. And then I came back from Italy, and zucchini started to give me a really awful headache every time I ate it. And perhaps the strangest part, it makes me mouth and my whole body go numb! 

I decided to eliminate the zucc all together for a couple of months, kind of like a modified Elimination Diet hoping that someday ::sigh:: I could indulge in more than just cuc noodles. Thankfully, it worked! And I am happy to say that I am officially back on the zucchini wagon! 

I've been in California for my "spring break" and have been eating ginormous bowls of zucchini fettuccine with red pepper marinara. 

This sauce has some serious panache! And you know how I roll, so this doesn't have any salt or oil and only FRESH herbs. It is a simple combination of good tomatoes, red pepper, sun-dried tomato, a mango, celery, few green scallion tops and then I blend it up until it is as smooth as butta. Then I add basil and blend some more. Lastly, it is more tomatoes, more basil, and the rest of my zucchinis after they have been fettuccine-ed. And I blend it up, but not all the way, because I like to keep it chunky. Nom nom nom, for sure! (And this is only PART of my meal...this doesn't even include all the fruity deliciousness I eat before hand.)

 I think the real secret as to why this was so damnnn good is because I have been making my own sun-dried tomatoes from local heirloom tomatoes that I have been picking up at Mother's. God, California produce is just so heavenly. New York produce is bland. Sorry, but it is true. Bland, bland, bland!

I mean, check out these babies! Don't they just scream "EAT ME!"

On the flip side, sometimes I like to really change things up and make beet noodles! I know, right? Beet noodles! This girls gone all sorts of crazy! But, beets can be really good especially when they are nice and sweet and when spiralized they make really funky looking noodles! Before I came to California I was on a bit of a beet kick.

 Once again, my life in NYC is go-go-go. I don't have time for complicated meals with fancy-pants food preparation. I' m all about simple, but I still want to be satisfied by what I am eating. I don't think there is anything worse than eating something and feeling unsatisfied when your done. Personally, because I am such a food-oriented person, want to LOVE what I am eating. So, this sauce is as you would imagine, pretty simple: mango, basil, scallion. Blend it up, 123, you're done, toss over your noodles and your on the way to munching-land! 

As you can see, I'm allll about the noodles from zucchini to beets and the endless possibilities for the number of sauces you can create from only a few ingredients. (Ahh, the blood of an Italian, always got macaroni on the brain!)  You don't really NEED the salt because you've got celery and you certainly don't need any oil because only we really use oil for in a sauce is to add richness and body and that's what the sun-dried tomatoes do! Why mess with perfection really?

...really hoping I don't even have to mention the fact that meat and dairy, which shouldn't even be considered a food group, need not be present in any meal...

I can't promise how regular my posts will be, but I am going to do my best to post at least once every two weeks if not every week. Until then!

 Raw Food Nerd

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Revival Of Raw Food Nerd

Yes, it is for sure a revival friends- and the best kind at that, one that involves food and pictures of food, and I really cannot think of anything better than that! I've seriously missed this blog and I am ready to bring the goods.
    (I wasn't joking when I said I was ready to bring it!)

 So, gawd, where to begin? Well, I'm still as nerdy (and raw) as ever but I've given up on that high fat raw gourmet shim-sham. That's right, I've kicked it to the curb in favor of the fruity lifestyle.  That means, any of my food that I post pictures of will all be high carb raw vegan; free of salt, oil, spices and heavily based in good ol' fruity tuttie deliciousness.

Hey, don't knock it till you try it. Just because there isn't a whole lotta nuts, seeds, and taste-bud numbing salt and spices doesn't mean my food ain't DAMN good. (Even my Mim, The Salt Queen, loves my cucumber pasta slathered in rich sun-dried (yup, salt free too) mango basil sauce. )

If you want to know more about why I hopped on the 811-train feel free to ask, but otherwise, I'm not really going to get into it. (Check out www.30bananasaday.com for tons more info, recipes, forums, and general guidance) Let me just say though, if you have a digestive issue, it would be in your best interest to really give the high carb low fat lifestyle a 100% chance. That's the main reason why I did it and it has literally changed my life.
As far as this little bloggie goes, a good portion of the food pictures (for now) will be what I am eating, as I'm still in NYC and therefore, it's dinner for one even though it looks like dinner for 10.  But you should disband all preconceived notions because I refuse, just down right refuse, to eat anything that doesn't taste good. I know I have said it before, but I am just not one of those people that eats strictly for fuel. So the meals you see will all be combinations of foods that I legit crave and they just happen to be salt, oil, and spice free. I'm a big fan of tahini and hemp seeds so you'll see meals with that too, because low fat doesn't mean NO fat. That would just be crazy talk!

And, of course there will be recipes, lots of recipes. I'm a big believer in sharing the wealth of health. (Still a cheeze-ball, yup.) I also plan to still include reviews on new fangled raw snackles that I find and restaurants that are must eats.

I do think high raw is better than no-raw so sometimes, especially when I am off to California to visit my hubby or TEACH A CLASS (yip! I cannot WAIT to get back into this!) you will see cooked vegan foods popping up on here. Any vegan non-raw snacks, that I can't dive into will surely be devoured taste-tested and critiqued by the husbandry, Kev He's a trust worthy foodie with an equally discerning palette, perhaps even more than mine!!   I'm all for it. I think the best thing we can do is cut the meat and dairy - it's toxic and not just for us, but for the planet. I don't care how grass-fed pasture raised your beefychickenducklamb- kabob is, it still died so you could have dinner; baddd karma!

Ultimately, the objective here is still the same: organic, as local as possible, and freaking delicious.

Stay nerdy foodies, and check back by Monday for my Oodles of Noodles post. It's going to be quite the pasta showdown!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Oh Snap, She's Back!

That's right fellow vegan foodie nerds, after a very long (unplanned) hiatus, I'm back!!

Honestly, I've been meaning to re-start my sadly neglected child blog for some time; no time like January 1st! Right?!

So much has happened in the past year - I moved to NYC for work, planned a wedding, got married in Italy, and gave my diet a huge overhaul! (More details to come on the aformentioned).

In the upcoming weeks expect a serious bloggie turn around because if you thought I was all about food before -- you haven't seen anything yet!! >> certified food geek here <<

Happy New Year!!