Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Before You Reach For Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte, Check Out The Nutritional Information

Starbucks' Seasonal Drink
I noticed an ad in this morning's paper for Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte. It's sounds warm and inviting. They describe it as "the ideal vision of fall, bright days that grow cool and call for warm knits as we walk under leaves that curl red and gold in a soft wind". That's probably a good description because you'll be walking under those red and gold leaves for about 4 miles to work off just one of those Grande Lattes. As for the warm knits, you'll be needing them in a bigger size as you will be gaining a pound every 9 days by drinking just one of these Pumpkin Spice Grande Lattes each morning.

Check Out the Nutritional Information
I will give Starbucks credit for creating an interactive nutritional website where you can change sizes and ingredients to see how many calories and how much fat, etc., is in each of their drinks. For the Pumpkin Spice Latte, I compared all the different sizes with different types of milk, with and without whipped cream and here's what I found:

* The Grande (16 ounces) with 2% milk and whipped cream has 380 calories, 13 g of fat (8 g of which is saturated), 50 mg of cholesterol, 51 g of carbohydrates, 14 g of protein and absolutely no fiber.
* The Grande with soy milk and no whipped cream has 300 calories (still enormous) but it lowered the fat to 4 g of total fat, 0.5 g of saturated fat and 0 mg of cholesterol. It is still high in carbohydrates with 54 g and provides 11 g of protein and no fiber.
* The Grande with non-fat milk and no whipped cream has the best stats with 260 calories (still not great for a morning cup of coffee), no fat or cholesterol, 50 g of carbohydrates, 14 g of protein and no fiber.

If you must try this beverage, at the very least, go for the "Short" which is only 8 ounces. This will cut all of the above numbers in half. Better yet, just ignore all the marketing hype on these rich drinks and order a plain cup of their coffee. More and more studies are showing that coffee has many health benefits from lowering the risk of diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and cancer to enhancing our cognitive performance.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Simple Arugula Salad with Balsamic Chive Vinaigrette

My daughter loves arugula so it was no surprise to find a good portion of her fall garden packed full of it. During our visit she made us a simple and delicious arugula salad dressed with a lovely balsamic vinaigrette with chives, also from her garden. When dressing arugula, she uses a 2 to 1 ratio of extra virgin olive oil to aged balsamic. When dressing a regular salad, she prefers a 1 to 1 ratio.
Arugula is a leafy green, cruciferous vegetable that contains anti-cancer compounds called glucosinolates. These compounds have strong antioxidant properties and also stimulate the body to produce detoxifying enzymes.
Arugula is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K as well as folate, calcium, manganese, potassium and magnesium. It is also a very good source of iron, phosphorus, and riboflavin.
There are only 5 calories in each cup of arugula so you can enjoy as much as you like. If it is too bitter to eat by itself, mix it with lettuce. But the bitterness in arugula also has beneficial properties as bitter foods can stimulate appetite and increase the flow of digestive juices.

* * *

Balsamic Chive Salad Dressing For Arugula
[makes 6 1/2 tablespoons]
1 tablespoon young chives, snipped or finely sliced
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix together well and use as needed to dress an arugula salad.

Per tablespoon of dressing: 78.2 calories, 8.3 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3.0 g protein, 4.0 g carbohydrates and 2 g of fiber.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Canning Fire Roasted Tomatoes Using A Hot Water Bath

Wash jars. Then place in boiling water until needed.

Cut tomatoes in half and place in shallow roasting pan.

Completed quarts of fire roasted tomatoes.

Sharing Our Canning Experience
First of all I want to point out that my canning expertise is in making jam which is a lot easier than canning tomatoes due to the higher acid content of most fruits. During my recent visit to Minneapolis, my daughter and I were experimenting with trying to can fire roasted tomatoes without using a pressure canner. We are not experts in tomato canning and, in fact, spent much of the day cleaning tomatoes off the walls after a pyrex baking dish exploded in mid air! So take this post as more of a story than a tried and true recipe!

Fire Roasted Tomatoes - The Problems we were Trying to Solve
My daughter loves to cook with fire roasted tomatoes. However, they are quite expensive if you use a lot of them so when we found a big sale on Roma tomatoes at the farmers market on Sunday, we naturally wanted to try to make them ourselves. When we searched for a fire roasted canning recipe, they all involved roasting them first in olive oil. I think this pushed the tomatoes, which are already borderline low acid, to less optimum acidity level necessitating the use of a pressure canner. So the problems we were trying to solve were:
* We wanted a "fire roasted tomato" with its skin, instead of a peeled tomato.
* We wanted to use a water bath canning technique since we didn't have a pressure canner.

Our Approach
Instead of roasting the tomatoes in oil, we just put them in a pan with a little water and sea salt. After baking them at high heat, we broiled them to get that fire roasted look and taste. In order not to die of botulism, we added lemon juice to every jar to make the tomatoes more acidic. Then we put them in a hot water bath for a long time. Here's our recipe.


Fire Roasted Tomatoes
[makes 6 quarts of tomatoes]
About 20 pounds of Roma tomatoes
6 quart glass canning jars with rims and new lids
12 tablespoons fresh or bottled lemon juice
2 cups water or more

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Wash the jars in soapy water. You can use a dishwasher with a sanitizer cycle if you have one. Once washed, submerge the jars in boiling water. You can use the water bath canner or another pot.
Boil the lids and rims in a small pot and leave in boiling water until needed.
Wash tomatoes. Cut off the tops and cut in half lengthwise. Place them in a large, shallow roasting pan. You will have to do this in several batches. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup of water over the tomatoes and a few pinches of salt. This will make some bubbly tomato juice that you will use to fill your jars to the top.
Bake the tomatoes at 500 degrees F for 15 minutes and then move to the broiler until they start to blacken.
Remove from broiler and fill the jars with roasted tomatoes.
Put 2 tablespoons of lemon juice over the tomatoes in each jar.
Fill each jar to 1/2 inch from the top with the juices from the roasting pan.
Run a plastic knife around the edges to remove any air bubbles in the jars.
Wipe the tops of the jars clean with a paper towel.
Place lids on the jars and screw on the rims (snug but not too tight).
Boil in a hot water bath covered with 1 to 2 inches of water.
Process for 45 minutes (some experts say 85 minutes when packing them with their own juices but that seems excessive to me) and even longer if you are at high altitude.
Lift the jars out of the hot water bath with a jar lifter (my favorite tool for canning).
Place jars on a towel and let them remain untouched until they cool. (this may take a while, maybe overnight).
Once cooled, press down on the lid to see if it sealed. If it moves up and down, it is not sealed. You can refrigerate the jar and use it within the next week.

Lessons Learned
* We were surprised how few jars 20 pounds of tomatoes made. Canning your own tomatoes makes a lot more sense if you start with "free" home-grown tomatoes. If you don't, I'm not sure it's worth it when you can buy organic fire roasted diced tomatoes from Muir Glen for about the same price.
* DO NOT broil tomatoes in a pyrex baking dish. With the baking and broiling and handling, you may have an "exploding pyrex" incident like we did. If you have never washed 5 pounds of hot tomatoes off of an entire kitchen, trust me, it's not how you want to spend your Sunday!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Review Of Minneapolis' Ecopolitan Raw Food Restaurant

Raw cashew "cheese" log rolled in sun dried tomatoes.

A variety of juices.

Root vegetable "rawioli" with cashew cheese filling.

Macadamia Alfredo pasta on zucchini noodles.

Lasagna plate with sun dried tomato sauce and veggies.

Eco-sausage pizza (front) and red avocado pizza (back).

Flaxseed tostada with lentil "taco meat".

Raw vegan coconut cream pie

Ecopolitan, More than a Raw Food Restaurant
I got to visit Ecopolitan raw food restaurant last week while visiting my daughter in Minneapolis. Thinking it was just a restaurant, I was quite surprised to find that it is more of a "wellness" center. They also offer spa treatments, have an oxygen bar, a natural home and body goods shop and an Eco-healing center. In fact, I was a little bit put off by a giant sign offering colonic hydrotherapy while on my way to eat lunch! That aside, my daughter and her boyfriend joined me and my husband for a giant meal that spanned the menu.

The Menu
The menu is pretty typical for a raw food restaurant with appetizers, raw soups and salads and many heavier entrées centered around raw nut cheeses and sprouted grain crusts. What is a bit different is that they offer raw breakfasts. Here are some of the dishes we ordered:
* The "Raw cashew cheese log" ($8) is a great appetizer. The log is rolled in sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fresh basil and covered with balsamic onions and served with flax crackers.
* The juices are good but unremarkable. We ordered a 12 ounce ginger lemonade, cool cucumber and sweet beet, each for $6.50. The smaller 8 ounce glasses are $4.75.
* The "Ravioli" is my favorite dish ($11.75). The ravioli is made from very thinly sliced raw beets and filled with cashew cheese. The tomato sauce is made with fresh ginger which gives it a delightful spicy flavor. The dish is served on fresh greens.
* The "Macadamia Alfredo pasta" ($14.50) is pricey but everyone seemed to enjoy it. Unlike traditional Alfredo sauce, this one is very light. Besides zucchini noodles, it also contains bell peppers, marinated mushrooms, pine nuts and fresh herbs.
* The "Lasagna plate" ($13.50) is my least favorite dish. It contains layers of sun-dried tomato sauce and cashew cheese layered with some veggies. Although the flavors are good, I did not enjoy the dish because the layers were mushy and have absolutely no texture.
* We ordered two different pizza's. The "Eco-sausage pizza" ($14/ $8 half order) is made of walnut sausage, bell pepper, marinated mushrooms, onions and ginger marinara sauce on a buckwheat-herb crust. This is a good raw pizza but it doesn't compare to my favorite raw sausage pizza from Quintessence in New York City. The "Raw Avocado pizza" ($13/ $7.50 half order) has the same crust with olive tapenade, avocado, zucchini, marinated mushrooms, pine nuts and cilantro. Everyone enjoyed the pizzas!
* The "Flaxseed Tostada" ($13) has a sunflower shell filled with lentil taco meat, fresh veggies, sunflower seeds, sprouts and hot sauce and is covered with cashew sour cream. It is a tasty dish but not as good as the others.
* Dessert was a "Coconut Cream pie" ($6). This is a delicious pie with a crust made from coconut flakes and dates and a filling of coconut flesh, coconut oil and more coconut flakes. Even though this dessert must be extremely high in fat, it tastes remarkably light.

All in all, we enjoyed the meal. It was a nice restaurant with friendly service and a good selection of food items. I think the dishes were a bit pricey but as anyone who prepares raw food knows, the ingredients to make these dishes can be very expensive.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Whole Wheat Gnocchi With Kale And Carrots

Everyone Loves Kale
If you follow this blog, you know how much I love this nutrient powerhouse. Unfortunately, so do aphids. I have been fighting them for the kale lately so I need to consume it before they do. By the way, if you are growing kale, check the bottom of the leaves for these little guys. Another clue that you may have aphids is the presence of ants. Ants and aphids have a symbiotic relationship. A mild soap spray can get rid of aphids but you will have to continue to use it.
Anyway, getting back to the kale, I made this very quick and simple sauce to go over gnocchi. I found some nice whole wheat gnocchi which I believe is vegan. It's from Italy and although it doesn't say "vegan", it doesn't list any animal products. This sauce would also be good over a short fusilli (corkscrew) whole grain pasta.

Delicious, Light, Filling and Healthful
Most of the time when you order gnocchi in the restaurant, it comes drenched in a heavy cream or cheese sauce with tons of fat and calories. This sauce is light yet the gnocchi makes it quite filling. Each serving is less than 300 calories and has less than 1 gram of saturated fat yet it packs over 8 grams of fiber and tons of healthful plant nutrients! The kale alone has over 45 different flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Why does Gnocchi only Serve 3?
Gnocchi from Italy usually comes in a 400 gram package and although it says there are 4 servings, it really only serves 3. In Italy, perhaps, it is meant as a first course (or primo) followed by a heavier "secondi" so you would only serve a small amount. But in the U.S., this dish may be the entire dinner along with a small salad so I don't think it's enough for 4 people. It certainly isn't around this house! So if you are cooking for 4, double the recipe and have a few servings left over for lunch!


Whole Wheat Gnocchi with Kale and Carrots
[serves 3]
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
3 small garlic cloves, minced
4 packed cups of kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
One 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dried basil
One 400 gram (14.1 ounce) package of whole wheat gnocchi
Salt for the water
1/2 teaspoon of salt for the sauce (more or less to taste)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Garnish with fresh chopped parsley
Serve with small bowl of nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese (not vegan)

Bring salted water to a boil, cover and let simmer on low until needed.
Heat olive oil on medium heat and sauté garlic until fragrant, about one minute.
Add kale and carrots and stir until coated, about a minute. Add the basil, salt, some juice from the diced tomatoes and 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water (just enough to steam the vegetables). Cover and simmer until the kale and carrots are tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes. Don't overcook.
Add the diced tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes are bubbling.
Bring the water back up to a boil and add the gnocchi. Drain them as soon as they rise to the top. (Cook the gnocchi at the last minute since they only take a few short minutes to cook).
Mix the drained gnocchi into the sauce and serve immediately. Top with freshly ground black pepper and nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese.

Per serving: 298.5 calories, 4.8 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 10.6 g protein, 9.2 g carbohydrates and 5.2 g of fiber.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dr. Michael Greger Gives An Update On Latest Nutritional Research In Santa Rosa

World Renowned Nutritional Expert or Stand-up Comic?
On Saturday I was fortunate enough to attend a lecture in Santa Rosa by Dr. Michael Greger. He was the guest speaker at a gathering of the Farm Animal Protection Project, a volunteer organization that works to prevent animal suffering. Besides being informative, this guy had me laughing from the minute he started until his last slide. He reminds me of Jon Cryer who plays Alan, Charlie Sheen's brother in two and a half men. He uses this "quiz show" format to present his material and I certainly did not expect a lecture in clinical nutrition to be this entertaining. If you ever get a chance to listen to him speak, take it. You can also buy his DVD's on the "Latest in Clinical Nutrition" on his website.

Michael Greger, M.D.
Among his long list of credentials, you may have heard of him as the expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.
Dr. Greger is the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. He is an author, a physician, an internationally recognized professional speaker and lecturer. Every year he reads thousands of technical publications on nutrition and then travels the country presenting some of the key highlights. The entire summaries can be seen on his DVD's. As a strict vegan, much of his research is focused on the benefits of a plant based diet and the detriment of a diet based on the consumption of animals and animal products like dairy and eggs. So if you are not a strict vegan you may wrinkle your nose at some of the literature he tends to concentrate on. Even so, you will find it captivating and will learn a great deal.

Dr. Greger's 2010 Optimum Nutrition Recommendations
According to Dr. Greger, the healthiest diet is one made up of whole plant foods such as grains, beans, nuts, seeds, fruit (especially berries) and lots of vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables). He also recommends the consumption of green or white tea.
He points out that particular attention should also be paid to these micronutrients:
* Vitamin B12 - All vegans MUST supplement with this vitamin. He recommends at least 2000 mcg each week from daily or weekly supplementation or B12-fortified foods.
* DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids- He recommends 250 mg of algae-derived DHA daily.
* Vitamin D - If you live in a sunny place, spend 15-30 minutes a day in the sun to get your vitamin D (15 minutes for people with lighter skin and 30 minutes for people with darker skin). Those of you who either don't have time for this or don't live in the right geography should supplement with 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day. (Note, this is ten times the RDA so it's hard to get without supplementing). This is especially important in the winter months.
Calcium - Get 600 mg from calcium-rich plant foods, preferably dark leafy greens. But he warns that spinach, chard and beet greens are high in oxalic acid which binds with calcium. So enjoy spinach, chard and beet greens for other healthful reasons but they should not be considered a viable source of calcium.
Iodine - Dr. Greger recommends 150 mcg of iodine daily from either iodized salt, seaweed or a supplement. He warns us NOT to each hijiki as it is known to have high levels of arsenic. He also tells us to avoid kelp since it may have too much iodine.
Iron - Menstruating women can increase their absorption of iron by combining foods rich in iron with vitamin C and should get checked for anemia every few years. Men should NOT attempt to increase iron intake without being checked for iron overload disease. (See my post on Best Raw Vegan, Vegetarian and Non-Vegetarian Sources of Iron).
Selenium - Dr. Greger recommends that Northern Europeans may need to take a selenium supplement or eat about 20 Brazil nuts per month.

Updates on Clinical Nutrition Research
A few of the many updates contained in his annually published DVD's were discussed today. Among them were:
The healthiest apple
The crabapple was found to be the healthiest apple. The healthiest apple that you would actually eat is the IdaRed. Living in Sebastopol, home of the Gravenstein apple, this was very disappointing. Don't despair, all apples are good for you!
Statins cause muscle toxicity
Besides damaging the liver, a study showed clear evidence of muscle damage of people taking statins. Even when there was NO sign of muscle damage in the blood, muscle biopsies showed damage. This causes significant decrease in muscle strength and performance and leads to frequent falling. He points out that a vegan diet would prevent the need for statins.
The healthiest lentil
Red lentils were found to be healthier than other lentils. But of course, all lentils are very healthful.
MRSA, the infamous superbug that was appearing in hospitals, is now found in farm workers, in supermarkets and in 5% of meat that was sampled.
C-diff, a new superbug, was found in calves, cows, chickens and other poultry. In samples taken in Arizona, C-diff was found in 42% of the meat sampled! Usually your "good" bacteria that colonizes your gut keeps C-diff at bay but after a course of antibiotics, C-diff can take over. Hand sanitizers will not kill it. It can survive 2 hours of conventional cooking temperatures. A C-diff infection can be fatal.
Bottom line: If handling meat, wear gloves. Better yet, according to Dr. Greger, avoid meat.
Soymilk and tea
It has been shown in the past that dairy milk blocks the benefits of the phytonutrients in tea, but does soymilk? Yes it does. So it's best to drink your tea without milk of any kind.
Best Tea?
Green and white tea is the most healthful tea to drink and Match tea, being a powdered green tea containing the complete leaf, has even more benefits.
Mad fish disease?
The FDA has banned feeding cow brains to all farm animals but did they go far enough? It legally can be fed to farmed fish. A study showed that feeding cow brains to farmed fish is a means of transmission of infectious prions from cows with mad cow disease to humans.
I don't know if anyone is feeding cow brains to farmed fish yet but if you eat fish, this would be a reason to purchase wild, not farmed, fish.
The best herbal tea
The most healthful herbal tea is dandelion tea.
What's in a fast food burger?
Five billion fast food burgers are sold each year (and you wonder why cardiovascular disease and obesity is so prevalent). Analysis shows only 2.1% to 14.8% of these burgers are actual muscle meat! The rest was bone, cartilage, parasites, fillers, water and ammonia.
Are fish allergies really from fish?
Two thirds of retail fish sampled tested positive for anisakis, a parasitic worm. These worms, alive or dead from cooking, can trigger allergic reactions. So many people who think they have fish allergies may actually just be allergic to this commonly found parasite.

I bought several of Dr. Greger's DVD's on Saturday and my husband and I are watching them a few hours at a time (he covers a lot of intensely interesting and relevant topics). If you have any interest in nutrition and how diet can affect your health, you should check out his DVD's. In addition, Dr. Greger donates the proceeds from his book and DVD sales to the Humane Society of the United States.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Zucchini Stuffed Baked Potato - A Simple And Delicious Vegan Entrée

Fresh ingredients for this simple vegan recipe.

Sauté vegetables in a Dutch oven.

Cut open baked potato and melt vegan buttery spread.

It's Zucchini Season Again!
Yes, they're everywhere. You know what I'm talking about. Zucchini!
Although I did not have my usual summer garden this year because we hadn't finished building our new raised bed vegetable gardens, I did manage to throw 3 zucchini plants in my flower bed. And now they are producing like crazy! So if you're also growing these vegetables, you are probably in desperate need of ways of using them up. Here's a quick sauté that you can serve on top of a baked potato as a healthful vegan entrée or just serve it as a side dish. It also can be mixed in with whole wheat pasta.


Vegan Zucchini Stuffed Potatoes
[makes 2 entrée size servings]
2 medium baking potatoes
4 teaspoons vegan buttery spread
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 cups yellow zucchini, sliced
2 cups green zucchini, sliced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub potatoes and poke 6 small slits in each one with a knife. Bake potatoes until a fork easily penetrates the skin (about an hour).
Sauté onion in oil for a few minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add peppers, zucchini and spices and stir for several minutes. Add water, cover and simmer until vegetables are fork tender (around 10 minutes). Stir occasionally. Set aside.
Place baked potatoes in two shallow bowls. Cut potatoes in half and cover with vegan buttery spread. Sprinkle the potatoes evenly with nutritional yeast then scoop the cooked vegetables over each potato. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 410.2 calories, 15 g fat, 3.7 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 14.3 g protein, 58.9 g carbohydrates and 10.9 g of fiber.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

How To Make Matcha Green Tea - The Health Benefits Of Green Tea

Sift the powdered matcha green tea into the cups.

Add 180 degree water and whisk until the Matcha is suspended.

A bamboo"Chansen" is traditionally used to whisk matcha.

Matcha Green Tea
Recently I purchased some matcha tea in order to experiment with making green tea ice cream. It had been a while since I had enjoyed this delicate beverage so I carefully studied the instructions on how to properly make it.
Unlike the typical leaf tea you are familiar with, matcha tea is a powdered green tea. Traditionally it is the tea used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Its sweet taste comes from the tea plants being shaded for about one month before being harvested. I love the deep green color, an indication of its many intense and healthful plant chemicals.

The History of Matcha
According to Den Shirakata, owner of Den's tea , a Buddhist monk introduced matcha to Japan in the 13th century. The monk, named Eizai, studied in China and upon his return to Japan, he brought back a new type of tea. This tea was made from raw leaves which were steamed than then milled into a fine powder.
Eizai also authored the first tea book in Japan named, "Maintaining Health by Drinking Tea". Matcha became part of Zen training for Zen Buddhism, also spread by Eizai. It also became part of the "SADO" tea ceremony.

Health Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea is rich in catechin polyphenols. The one most important is EGCG which is a powerful antioxidant. Green tea also contains the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E although it is said that EGCG has 25 to 100 times stronger antioxidant properties than vitamins C and E. Since Matcha tea contains the entire leaf it has the added benefit of providing fiber.
Many health benefits have been attributed to the frequent consumption of green tea. Here are a few of them:
* inhibition of cancer cells
* stabilizes blood sugar
* improving cholesterol profile
* helps prevent cardiovascular disease
* fight colds and flu as it has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties
* prevents tooth decay
* acts as a relaxant due to its content of the amino acid, theanine
* like berries, polyphenols in tea may prevent and reverse age-related memory loss

Enjoying Matcha Tea
Matcha is a powdered tea which doesn't dissolve in water. The Matcha is actually suspended in the water.
The four most important things to do to optimize your enjoyment of this delicious tea are:
1. Using 180 F degree water to make the tea
2. Sifting the Matcha
3. Whisking the tea properly to create a suspension
4. Drinking it before the powdered tea settles to the bottom

How to Make Matcha Tea
What you need:
* Boiling water
* An interim container (I use a 2 to 4 cup glass pyrex)
* A small bamboo scoop or 1/2 teaspoon measure
* A small strainer to sift the tea
* One or more tea cups
* A whisk (you can use the proper bamboo whisk called a "chansen" or any small whisk)
Making Matcha
1. Get out one or more tea cups.
2. Sift one gram, or 1/2 teaspoon of Matcha into each cup.
3. Pour boiling water into an interim container (tea pot, cup or pyrex).
4. Pour 3 ounces of water from the interim container into each of the tea cups. This extra step will get the water to the proper temperature if done immediately.
5. Whisk the Matcha and the water using the bamboo "chansen" or a small whisk until the powdered tea is suspended in the water.
6. Enjoy before the Matcha settles to the bottom. If it does, give it a swirl.

You can find a good assortment of Matcha tea at Den's tea . Amazon also sells the tea as well as the tea whisk (Chansen), the small scoop and glass Matcha bowl.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Vegan Chicken Fajitas With Fresh Peach Salsa - Butler Soy Curls," Tastes Like Chicken!"

Soak the soy curls in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain well.

Sauté the soy curls in a pan with olive oil and seasoning.

Butler Soy Curls - A Vegan Chicken Alternative
When I was a teenager, a friend of the family took us to a fancy French restaurant in Manhattan named Le Veau D'or. I believe it's still there. Soon there appeared a frog's leg on my plate. Though I was assured that it "tasted like chicken", I didn't eat it.
Many years later while on a business trip in Hong Kong, I was presented with rattlesnake soup. The person I was with assured me that it "tasted like chicken". I wondered how the poor chicken became the "gold standard" for something that tastes good.
Well I finally found something that I feel really good about eating that does "taste like chicken". It's a new vegan product from Butler Foods called, "Soy Curls". I saw them on the menu at the Blossoming Lotus restaurant in Portland but I didn't taste them until a few weeks ago at a vegan pot luck. I thought they were amazing and immediately ordered a case from Butler foods. I've been experimenting with them ever since. There is no limit to how you can use this delicious product. I suspect you'll be seeing a lot of recipes in the future from me using soy curls.

Unlike Other Vegan Fake Meat
Many vegan fake meat products are made from highly processed vegetable protein and many contain wheat gluten. I've never been a big fan of fake meat. But soy curls are made from whole soy beans and appear to be minimally processed. Every ounce of soy curls provides you with 10 grams of heart healthy, breast cancer fighting soy protein from non-GMO soybeans grown without chemical pesticides. There's a list of places to buy soy curls on the Butler website or you can buy them online from Butler foods.


Vegan Chicken Fajitas with Fresh Peach Salsa
[makes 8 servings]
For the Peach Salsa
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 cups fresh peaches, peeled and diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste
For the Fajitas
One 8 ounce package of soy curls
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Bragg's liquid aminos or soy sauce (I prefer Bragg's)
4 tablespoons Red Star nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
8 of your favorite tortillas

Make the peach salsa by combining all of the above salsa ingredients and gently tossing. Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste. Set aside.
Place the soy curls in a bowl and cover with hot water for 10 minutes.
After they rehydrate, drain them very well. Return them to the bowl and mix well the Bragg's liquid aminos.
In a different small bowl, combine nutritional yeast, chili powder and garlic powder. Set aside.
Heat oil and sauté the soy curls sprinkling them with the nutritional yeast mixture. Cook until golden (about 5 minutes) and remove from heat.
Assemble the fajitas by placing 1/8 of the soy curls and peach salsa on a heated tortilla. Serve immediately.

Per serving of fajita without the tortilla or salsa:149.8 calories, 8.3 g of fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 12.6 g protein, 7.3 g carbohydrates and 4.3 g of fiber.

Per serving of peach salsa: 53 calories, 2.6 g fat, 0.4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.4 g protein, 6.2 g carbohydrates and 2.1 g of fiber.