Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Lucky" French Toast With Mango, Blackberries And Whole Grain Seeded Baguette - A Healthy Vegetarian Breakfast

Use a whole grain, seeded baguette. I use Judy's Breadsticks.

Why Is This "Lucky" French Toast?
I spent decades traveling throughout Asia on business when working in high tech. And after flying well over a million miles doing so, I picked up many Asian customs, dietary habits and superstitions. I eat with chopsticks as easily as with a fork and when I eat out, it's almost always Japanese, Vietnamese or Chinese cuisine.
I'm Italian which naturally makes me pretty superstitious to begin with so it was pretty easy to latch on the Chinese belief that 8 is a very lucky number. I've since become pretty obsessed with the number 8 but the Chinese are even more so. If you recall, the Beijing Olympics started on 8/8/08 at 8 minutes and 8 seconds after 8PM. The number 8 is associated with wealth and fortune which are very important in the Chinese culture. On one of my first visits to Hong Kong, I was shocked to hear that someone had paid $50,000 for a license plate with all 8's. I'm sure it would cost a lot more for that today.
So today's recipe is "lucky" because it has lots of "8's"; 8 slices of bread, 8 drops of stevia, 1/8 teaspoons of all seasonings and 8 large blackberries. And, you can say, this is what I "8" for breakfast!

Don't Eat Eggs from Tortured Chickens
Many of my readers are vegans who avoid all animal products and feel pretty strongly about not eating eggs. As a nutritionist, I feel that an occasional egg can be part of a heathy diet. But I do feel strongly that most of the egg industry abuses and tortures chickens. If you are lucky enough to live in the country, as we do, you can easily find eggs from chickens who live outdoors and a natural diet. In fact, you may have chickens yourself or neighbors who will sell you their eggs. But for those of you who live in the city, it's not so easy. Many of the eggs you buy are from chickens who are kept in large, dark buildings in very crowded and filthy conditions. Some of their beaks are cut so they don't peck each other to death. I can't imagine that an egg coming from an environment like that, from a chicken who is under that much stress, can be as healthful as one from a free range chicken. So if you eat an occasional egg, know your source.


Lucky French Toast with Mango and Blackberries
[serves 2]
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large organic eggs from happy chickens
1/4 cup unsweetened organic soy milk (or other milk)
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
8 drops liquid stevia
8 slices whole grain, seeded baguette cut 3/4" thick
8 large blackberries
1/2 mango, diced

Coat a non stick 9" frying pan or griddle with olive oil.
In a small bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add soy milk, salt, cinnamon, vanilla and stevia and beat well. Heat the pan on medium heat. Dip slices of baguette into egg mixture making sure they soak it up, and place in heated pan. Drizzle extra egg mixture, if any, slowly over the baguette slices. Cook several minutes on each side until lightly brown making sure the egg is cooked thoroughly. Remove from pan, top with mango and blackberries and serve immediately.

Per serving: 310.3 calories, 12.3 g fat, 3.1 g saturated fat, 211 mg cholesterol, 12.6 g protein, 41 g carbohydrates and 6.1 g of fiber.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

White Chia Seeds - How Do They Compare?

Regular chia pudding on left and white chia pudding on right.

What a Difference a Year Makes
A year ago, shortly after I started my blog, I posted my first of many chia seed recipes. When I'd see a friend or relative that I had turned on to chia seeds, I'd usually have to give them some of my "stash". They were so hard to get, you would think they were an illegal substance. Since that time, however, they have become much more popular. You can easily find them in health food stores and on countless internet sites. The rapid acceptance of this product is due to its high percentage of omega 3 fatty acids and high quality protein. It promotes endurance, stabilizes blood sugar and is gluten free. I use chia seeds to make tapioca-like puddings that require no cooking, raw smoothies, salad dressings, vegan muffins and raw crackers. Check out all my Chia Seed Recipes.

What are White Chia Seeds and How Do They Compare?
Recently, I discovered white chia seeds. They have similar nutritional claims as the more common darker ones but white seeds are presently more expensive. It's also more difficult to find organic white chia seeds.
Just for fun, I did a side by side comparison with the regular chia seeds. I wanted to know if they are worth the extra $1 to $2 a pound. Here's what I did:
My Experiment
I took two jars and filled them both with 1 cup of unsweetened hemp milk, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 8 drops of liquid stevia. I placed 2 1/2 tablespoons of regular chia seeds in one jar and 2 1/2 tablespoons of white chia seeds in the other. I vigorously stirred both jars, waited 15 minutes and vigorously stirred them again. After waiting another 15 minutes, I stirred them one more time and put them in the refrigerator over night.
Here's What I Found
* White chia seeds are smaller, more delicate and a little easier to chew after hydrated.
* White chia seeds absorb liquids more slowly than the regular seeds so they take longer to thicken.
* Pudding made with white chia seeds comes out a bit lighter in color, though the difference is subtle.
* Both sugar free, vanilla puddings were delicious.

* I prefer the look and delicate texture of white chia seeds in chia pudding recipes.
* I like the way regular, darker chia seeds look in raw salad dressings and muffins as they resemble poppy seeds.
* In raw crackers and smoothies the color doesn't matter as much so you might as well use the less expensive regular, darker chia seeds.
* If cost is more important to you than color or texture, spend your extra dollars on buying seeds that are pesticide free, organically grown or certified organic.

How to Shop For Chia Seeds
You can find chia seeds in your local health food store or Whole Foods. There are many internet sites that offer chia seeds. Just do a google search and many will come up. I bought chemical free white chia seeds from Raw Food World. They delivered promptly and I was satisfied with the product. They charge for shipping so it's more economical to buy 5 pounds or more at a time and share them with friends. They offer chemical free white and regular chia seeds but only the regular chia seeds were available in certified organic. I've also purchased chia seeds from www.GetChia.com. Their service and product quality was also very good. Although I haven't personally used these sites for chia seeds, other sites that sell them include: BuyChiaSeed.com, Natural Remi-Teas, Nutsonline and others. Before you select your vendor, make sure you take into account the shipping costs. Some companies charge more per pound but offer free shipping.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Garbanzo Bean And Raw Kale Salad With Lemon-Turmeric Dressing

A Nice Blend of Raw Food and Protein Packed Garbanzo Beans
I love the many benefits of a raw food diet. But I don't think it's necessary to be 100% raw all the time. (Read my posting on How Raw Do You Need To Be?) Here's a recipe that mixes cooked garbanzo beans with raw kale and red bell pepper, blending the benefits of both. Cooked garbanzo beans contain all the essential amino acids (the amounts are listed in my posting on Vegan Farfalle Pasta and Garbanzo Beans with Raw Walnut Pesto along with their other nutritional benefits). Some people find cooked garbanzos more digestible. However I do prefer them raw when making Raw Hummus with Sprouted Garbanzo Beans.

Kale - Great in Soup, Salads, Smoothies - Even Chips!
No matter how you prepare kale, it's a nutrient powerhouse packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and essential fatty acids. If you enjoy raw kale, try these two recipes: A Raw Kale Salad and a Raw Green Kale Smoothie . Another enjoyable raw kale salad is Raw Kale, Corn and Red Bell Pepper Salad. My absolutely favorite cooked kale soup is Tuscan Bean Soup with Kale and Cannellini Beans. And if you are looking for a healthful snack, try Raw Kale Chips with Added Omega 3.

Put Together This Delicious and Healthful Salad in Just a Few Minutes
In just a few minutes, you can slice up some raw kale, open a can of garbanzos, chop up some vitamin C packed red bell pepper and red onion and mix up a quick lemon, turmeric and oil dressing. The added bonus is the spice turmeric which reduces inflammation and has been used for rheumatoid arthritis, and has been linked to the prevention of Alzheimer's and the ability to fight a number of cancers.


Garbanzo Bean and Raw Kale Salad
[serves 4]
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
dash cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 packed cup kale, thinly sliced
One 15 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 to 2 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

Place the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, turmeric and cayenne pepper in a medium sized bowl and mix well. Add sliced kale to the salad dressing and massage the dressing into the kale with your hands. (Warning: your hands may turn a little yellow. Just wash off with soap or use plastic gloves). Add garbanzo beans, red onion and red bell pepper and mix well. Serve or refrigerate until serving. This makes a great "make ahead" salad since none of the ingredients get soggy.

Per serving: 159 calories, 4.4 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.8 g protein, 23.8 g carbohydrates and 5.0 g of fiber.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Raw Vegan Blackberry, Strawberry And Mango Breakfast Salad - A Healthy Way To Start Your Day

Freeze strawberry tops, with greens, for later use in smoothies.

It's The Weekend!
It's a beautiful, sunny Saturday morning here in Northern California. After enjoying a cup of Yerba Mate tea, I decided to start the weekend with a colorful and healthful fruit salad. Last night there was an amazing sale on blackberries which add color and richness to this salad not to mention their high fiber and antioxidant content.

It's All In The Colors
I've mentioned this many times - the color of your meal is an indication of its nutritional benefits. I'm not talking food coloring - that would make fruit loops appear healthful. I'm talking colors from nature. This fruit salad is not only rich in vitamin C and other key vitamins and minerals, but its colors are an indication of the many beneficial plant chemical or "phytochemicals" it provides. These phytochemicals are known to protect us against cardiovascular disease, some cancers and premature aging. There are hundreds of these protective plant chemicals found in nature and by eating 5 to 7 or more servings of colorful fruits and vegetables a day, we are able to get a nice selection of these in our diet.
Serve this fruit salad by itself or with Raw Granola or Agave Sweetened Vegan Granola.


Blackberry, Strawberry and Mango Salad
[serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side dish]
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 drops stevia, (optional)
1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced
1 cup fresh blackberries, cleaned
1 cup fresh mango, diced
1/4 cup raw English walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon dried, unsweetened coconut

In a medium bowl, mix orange juice and stevia. Add sliced strawberries and mix well. Add blackberries and mango and toss gently. Top with English walnuts and dried coconut and serve.

Per serving (2 servings total): 232 calories, 11.2 g fat, 2.4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4.5 g protein, 32.3 g carbohydrates and 8.3 g of fiber.

Per serving (4 servings total): 116 calories, 5.6 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2.3 g protein, 16.1 g carbohydrates and 4.2 g of fiber.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Muffins With Almond Butter And Fresh Strawberries -Vegan Lunch In Five Minutes And Healthier Than A PB&J!

Organic, sprouted whole grain muffins.

What are Ezekiel Muffins?
Ezekiel muffins are a product made by Food For Life Baking Company. They make bread, English muffins, cereals and other products. Although they are not considered a "raw food", they are made from organic sprouted wheat, barley, millet, barley, lentils, soybeans and spelt. They are high in fiber and provide all the essential amino acids making it a complete protein. Because they are free of preservatives, they are kept in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Although I try to limit my intake of bread, I feel good about eating Ezekiel muffins since these flourless sprouted grains are more alkalizing than the typical English muffins you find in the store.

A Quick and Easy Lunch for the Entire Family
We've been really busy this week and haven't had much time to fuss with making lunch. I had almond butter and some cinnamon raisin Ezekiel muffins in the fridge so I thought I'd make a little sandwich with some of the Low Sugar Strawberry Jam i put up last summer . Unfortunately I discovered that we had finished the jam but we did have a basket of fresh strawberries. So I tried slicing some strawberries really thin and placing them on top of each lightly toasted muffin covered with almond butter. Thinly sliced fruit makes a great, low calorie substitute for jelly or jam. The resulting muffins made such a simple, pretty little dish that I thought I'd share it with you. It makes a great lunch for the kids too. Almond butter is high in manganese and vitamin E and is a good source of protein.


Cinnamon Raisin Ezekiel Muffins with Almond Butter and Strawberries
[makes 4 halves]
2 cinnamon raisin Ezekiel muffins cut in half and lightly toasted
4 tablespoons almond butter
8 strawberries, thinly sliced

Spread 1 tablespoon of almond butter on each muffin half. Cover each muffin with sliced fresh strawberries.

Per muffin half: 183 calories, 8 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.5 g protein, 23 g carbohydrates and 4.4 g of fiber.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Make Your Own Vegan Whole Grain, Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs With No Transfats Or High Fructose Corn Syrup

Use seasoned bread crumbs to make Italian stuffed artichokes.

What's In Store Bought Bread Crumbs?
I used Progresso Italian seasoned bread crumbs for many years. They taste pretty good and let's face it, most of the time we love the convenience of buying store bought bread crumbs. But after reading the label, I was shocked to find over 50 ingredients! Does something with this many ingredients still qualify as "food"? Here are just a few of the things listed on the label that I would rather not eat:
* White, processed flour was the first ingredient
* High fructose corn syrup
* Corn syrup
* Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (even though it claimed to be trans-fat free)
* Lots of sodium
* More sweeteners (honey, molasses and sugar)
* Preservatives
* Extra wheat gluten

If you are vegan, you should also be aware that these bread crumbs contain numerous animal products like butter, nonfat milk, buttermilk, eggs and honey.

Making Bread Crumbs is Simple
There's an easy solution to this. Just make your own! Take left-over whole grain bread, cut it into cubes and blend it up with the seasonings that you desire. Here's two recipes; one for vegan, whole grain, Italian seasoned bread crumbs and the other is for stuffed artichokes (my favorite thing to do with bread crumbs).


Vegan Whole Grain, Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
[makes 2 cups]
4 cups vegan whole grain bread, dried and cubes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or combo of oregano, basil, thyme and rosemary)
2 tablespoons dried parsley

If bread isn't totally dry, place bread cubes in a 325 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until dry (not toasted). Cool the bread cubes and place in a blender with the garlic powder, salt and pepper and process until they are crumbs. Add Italian seasoning and dried parsley to the blender and pulse until blended. Keep refrigerated.


Italian Stuffed Artichokes
[serves 4]
4 medium artichokes
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
4 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (for vegan dish, substitute 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast)

Holding the stem, cut the pointed top of the artichoke with a sharp knife. Then, with a pair of scissors, cut the tops of each of the remaining leaves by about ½ inch. Remove the bottom stem with a knife so that the artichoke can sit flat. Peel the stem and set aside. Wash the artichoke under cold water while slightly opening the leaves. Drain upside down while preparing the filling. In a small bowl, mix the bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast. With a teaspoon, fill each leaf with a small amount of the mixture. Place 4 artichokes on a steamer in a large, deep soup pot with water coming up slightly above the bottom of the artichokes. Drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil on each artichoke. Place the stem on top of each artichoke. Sprinkle salt over the stems and tops and steam for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until the leaves can be easily removed and the leaves are very tender. Add more hot water to the pot as the water level goes down.

Per serving: 233 calories, 7.5 g fat, 2.3 g saturated fat, 8.5 g protein, 33.5 g carbohydrates, and 11.3 g of fiber.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Raw Vegan Spinach And Strawberry Salad With Almonds And Orange Vinaigrette

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
[serves 4]
For the salad
6 cups raw baby spinach, cleaned
2 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup raw sliced almonds
12 thin red onion slices
For the dressing
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoons sea salt (more or less to taste)
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

Combine all salad ingredients in a large salad bowl except for the onion slices. Make the vinaigrette by mixing the dressing ingredients. Pour on salad, toss well and serve. Place 3 onion slices on each salad.

Per serving: 159.1 calories, 9.8 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 3.4 g protein, 15.6 g carbohydrates and 3.7 g of fiber.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Mango And Black Bean Salsa With Honey Lime Baked Salmon - Fish And Pregnancy

Makes a great vegetarian salsa or salad all by itself.

Fish and Pregnancy
There is a misconception that pregnant women shouldn't eat fish. The facts are that the EPA and especially the DHA omega 3 fatty acids in fish is critical for the development of the baby's brain, eyes and central nervous system. EPA and DHA make up almost three quarters of a newborn's brain, retina and nervous system and must get these nutrients from the pregnant mom. Studies have shown that mothers who supplement with fish oil during pregnancy have children with higher intelligence, better eyesight and fewer behavioral problems after birth. Mom's enjoy a lower risk of postpartum depression, reduced breast cancer risk, and less chance of a cesarean and pre-term labor.

Other studies have shown that absorption of this omega 3 fatty acid is better when you eat salmon than when you take a cod liver oil supplement. Salmon is one of the very best sources of these important omega 3's and is very low in mercury and can safely be enjoyed frequently. Unfortunately some doctors are still misinformed about the safety of fish and pregnancy. At a medical conference I recently attended, they were all in agreement that pregnant and lactating women should eat low mercury fish like salmon. Vegans should supplement with DHA supplements derived from Algae however these do not contain EPA. Unfortunately plant based omega 3 (from foods like flax seed) does not convert efficiently enough to provide sufficient amounts. A significant number of people cannot do this conversion at all.

Many Health Benefits
You need not be pregnant to enjoy the many health benefits of salmon. Besides EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids, salmon is an excellent source of selenium, protein, niacin and vitamin B12. It is excellent for hearth health, lowering triglycerides, controlling high blood pressure, protecting against stroke, heart attacks, colorectal and prostate cancer, reduces the risk of macular degeneration and dry eye and reduces depression. Although my diet is plant centric and I eat large quantities of raw vegan food, I consider salmon to be a true "Food For Long Life" and enjoy it regularly. Here's a recipe that combines this healthy fish with a vegan salsa with mostly raw ingredients. One serving provides over two grams of EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids.


Mango and Black Bean Salsa
[serves 4]
1 cup diced mango
1 cup diced jicama
1 California avocado, diced
1 can organic black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional)
3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro plus some for garnish
2 tablespoons minced red onions
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Black pepper to taste

Place mango, jicama, avocado, black beans, jalapeno, 3 tablespoons of the cilantro, and red onions in a bowl. In a small bowl mix lime juice, salt, garlic, cumin and black pepper. Gently stir the lime dressing into the mango mixture and serve. Top with a serving of Honey Lime Baked Salmon (below), extra cilantro and fresh black pepper.

Per serving (salsa only): 173.6 calories, 5.3 g fat, 0.8 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5.8 g protein, 28.4 g carbohydrates and 8.3 g of fiber.

Honey Lime Baked Wild Salmon
[serves 4]
1 pound wild salmon cut into 4 slices
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon raw honey
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place salmon in a lightly greased shallow pan just the size of the 4 pieces of salmon.
Mix oil, lime juice and honey in a small bowl and spoon over the salmon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes. Do not overcook. Serve over Mango and Black Bean Salsa.

Per serving (salmon only): 208 calories, 10.2 g fat, 1.8 g saturated fat, 62.7 mg cholesterol, 22.7 g protein, 4.6 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 2.3 g omega 3 fatty acids, (2.1 g EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids).

Friday, April 02, 2010

Raw Vegan Strawberries Romanoff - A Strawberry Dessert With Home Made Non-Dairy Topping

A Delicious Raw Dairy-Free Dessert
I was at the store today (bad idea as it was PACKED with people shopping for the holidays) but what made it worth while was these beautiful strawberries. With ripe oranges on my tree, all I needed was some raw cashews and a touch of Grand Marnier (OK, not totally raw but hey, it's a holiday) and we were in for a treat.
I was introduced to Strawberries Romanoff by a neighbor of mine many years ago in New York City. I loved the way the strawberries and oranges complimented each other and how the intensity of the strawberries soaked in orange juice and orange liqueur was mellowed by the whip cream. But even though I no longer eat whip cream, I can still enjoy this dessert by making a non-dairy topping by blending up raw cashews with fresh orange juice and something sweet. This creamy, non-dairy dessert topping is heavenly but you must have a really good blender to pull it off. Give it a try!


Raw Vegan Strawberries Romanoff
[serves 4]
For the Strawberries
4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur (optional)
1 tablespoon Sucanot or organic cane sugar
For the Cashew Cream
1 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 to 6 hours
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 Medjool date, pitted and soaked for 30 minutes

Put the sliced strawberries in a small bowl with the orange liqueur and sugar. Gently toss until well combined and the strawberries get syrupy. Set aside.
To make the cashew cream, rinse the soaked cashews and place in a VitaMix or other high speed blender. Add the orange juice and the soaked date. Blend until smooth and creamy. You will have to stop the blender many times to scrape down the sides. If it seems too dry, you can add a bit more orange juice or water but be patient, it will eventually look like whipped cream.
Serve the strawberries in a small glass bowl or stemmed glass, top with cashew cream and serve.

Per serving: 254.6 calories, 12.0 g fat, 2.0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 6.2 g protein, 32.5 g carbohydrates and 4.5 g of fiber.