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...