Spring Super Smoothie

Today is the first day of spring and I’m excited! I love spring because it signifies new beginnings. As you go through your day today, try to meditate on what it is you’d like to start doing today, this week, this month, this season, or even this year. Now is a great time to dive into some exciting plans to improve your life.

For me personally, I’m going to try to eat more greens everyday. Even though I do eat vegetables every day, I’ve noticed that I could incorporate more nutrient-dense greens into my favorite meals. To get started on my new goal, I’ve created a deliciously healthy smoothie packed with nutrition. This is a green smoothie similar to what I’ve posted in much earlier blog posts but with a few twists. Feel free to try this smoothie and give me some feedback because I love hearing from my readers! You can email me, write a comment, or get in touch via facebook or instagram @vitaminvalentine 🙂

Spring Super SmoothieIMG_8842

  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 cup frozen or fresh mango
  • 6 oz. plain So Delicious Greek Coconut Yogurt (this is my favorite non-dairy yogurt because it has extra fiber and a unique texture that is great for smoothies, but if you prefer a different kind, use whatever you’d like)
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain or vanilla almondmilk
  • 1 tsp. spirulina powder (optional)

Cut and prepare fruits and kale. Measure almond milk and other ingredients. Add all to a blender and blend well until liquified. This smoothie is on the thick side, so if you want, you can add water or a little more almond milk. This can either serve one or two people depending on how hungry you are. Enjoy and keep in mind: what can you start doing today?

-Jess

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Crunchy Kale and Nut Salad

If you live in New York, this past weekend you were most likely stuck indoors due to the snow. This past weekend during the blizzard, I was supposed to be teaching my first donation-based yoga class, but that just wasn’t going to happen due to the weather, so my yoga class has been rescheduled for next month. If you read my last post about yoga, you know how excited I am about teaching this class! Getting back to being stuck inside, one of my favorite ways to pass the time when stuck inside is to cook. Or in my case, un-cook. I love kale and I especially love kale salads. The following kale salad will satisfy a crunchy craving and supply a good dose of healthy fats and fiber. It’s vegan, and if you use gluten-free soy sauce (tamari or shoyu) it can also be gluten free.

Crunchy Kale and Nut Salad FullSizeRender-14

Ingredients (serves 4 as a side dish, 2 if served as a main dish)

Salad

  • 4-5 cups kale, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 a cucumber, diced
  • 1 carrot, shaved into slices or diced
  • 1/2 cup slivered raw almonds

Dressing (makes several servings, refrigerate and save remaining dressing)

  • 1/4 cup tahini (hulled sesame paste, can be found at most health food stores)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp. water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

 

Directions

  • For the salad, cut veggies and set kale in a large bowl. Massage olive oil onto kale using your hands so that the kale becomes softened. Add veggies and slivered almonds.
  • For the dressing, measure and whisk together ingredients in a large bowl until uniform. Add 4 tablespoons of the dressing to the salad and mix with a large spoon. There will be a large amount of dressing leftover. Store the remaining dressing in a sealed cup or bowl and use within a few days.
  • Share with friends and enjoy!

 

-Jess

Healthy-ish Oat Pear Pie

Greetings! I haven’t written any recipes in over a month but if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I tend to write less when I’m busy with school. In addition to being a full-time grad student, I also started a new job in september as a nutritionist! All of my work seems to be paying off and it’s a great feeling. I’m a big believer in occasionally celebrating achievements with healthy baked goods. I’m also a big fan of local produce. Combine these two you get my latest recipe: Healthy-ish Oat Pear Pie. I’m calling this recipe “healthy-ish” because pie isn’t the healthiest food in general, but I did make a healthier version of pie by using whole wheat flour and less (vegan) butter than found in some recipes.

Healthy-ish Oat Pear PieIMG_7578

Ingredients

Pie shell:

  • 2.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1.5 sticks of  3/4 cup Earth Balance spread (melted)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp. nondairy milk

Filling:

  • 4-5 medium sized, locally grown (if available) bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. agave
  • 1 tbsp. lemon
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Directions

For the pie shell:

  • Measure and mix dry ingredients. Melt the butter and add into the dry ingredients, mix well. Add the nondairy or regular milk along with the cold water into the mixture, slowly. If the mixture becomes too moist, add a little more flour by the tablespoon. Set aside and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. After time has elapsed, spray a round pie pan/tin with nonstick spray. You can either roll out the dough using a rolling pin coated in flour so that the dough can easily be placed and spread into the pie pan OR you can use your hands to transfer the dough to the pan and mush it into the pan so that it is completely covered on all sides (I used the second method). Add any extra dough to the upper sides of the pan to create a thicker crust.

For the filling:

  • Peel, core, and cut the pears. Pears should be cut into small pieces, but not diced. Place the pears in a large bowl, and add the maple syrup, honey, sugar, lemon juice, and stir in the cornstarch so that it dissolves into the liquid. Mix well. Add the cinnamon and mix. Transfer the filling into the pie crust that lines the pie pan.

For the topping:

  • Sprinkle oats and brown sugar on top of the filling.

Preheat the oven at 375°F. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the edges of the crust are browned and a knife can be inserted cleanly into the center of the crust. Remove from the oven after baking and allow to cool before cutting. Serve with ice cream, soy ice cream, sorbet, or hot cider. As always, enjoy!

-Jess

Very Vegan Mac & Cheese

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, in the past I’ve deviated from a vegan diet due to cravings for animal protein. The more I learn about nutrition, the more apparent it’s become to me that we are all unique and the most important thing is to listen to your own body while being mindful of nutrition. It’s also important to not judge yourself when it comes to what you eat and instead be an observer of how your food makes you feel! Maybe you’re a vegan for ethical purposes but find yourself having an occasional craving for animal products. Take a look at your diet and see if you’re missing out on an important nutrient, like iron, protein, calcium or omega 3’s and then see if eating more plant sources of those nutrients alleviates some of your cravings (in my experience, that piece of advice really helped!).  Above all, always try your best, but know that “diet perfection” doesn’t exist.

One thing that I’ve also realized is that sometimes eating the same things can get really repetitive and can also lead to cravings for things that you wouldn’t normally eat. With this in mind, I decided to try my hand at making vegan macaroni and cheese because who doesn’t love a serving of comfort food every now and then? This recipe is actually a combination of a few recipes gathered from Daiya brand’s website and from a dish that my favorite health food store makes as one of their “hot lunch specials”. I put my own spin on it by adding some vegan mock-meat sausage for added protein and a spicy taste, but feel free to omit that component if you’re looking for a more classic mac and cheese taste.

Very Vegan Mac & Cheese (serves about 6-8)FullSizeRender-10

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. whole grain elbow macaroni (whole grains can be brown rice noodles or speciality gluten-free noodles if you’re following a gluten free diet)
  • One 16 oz. package of Daiya brand vegan cheddar style shreds
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2.5 cups unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
  • black pepper (I didn’t measure, just sprinkle at your discretion)
  • garlic powder (about 1 tsp)
  • paprika (about 1/2 tsp)
  • 2 Field Roast Italian vegan sausages (omit if you’re following a GF diet)
  • Breadcrumbs or oat bran (to use as a topping. Omit if you’re following a GF diet)

Directions:

  • Boil water in a large pot (big enough to fit an entire 16 oz. package of macaroni)
  • Once the water has come to a rolling boil, allow macaroni to cook until tender
  • Remove the pot from the stove and drain the macaroni, set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the vegan buttery spread on low heat.
  • While the buttery spread melts, cut up the Field Roast vegan sausage into small pieces and cook in a separate saucepan on low heat until brown (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add the nutritional yeast and pepper to the vegan buttery spread saucepan.
  • Add the almond milk to the above saucepan.
  • Add the Daiya cheddar shreds to the above saucepan. Use a spoon to mix on low-medium heat.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Once the Daiya cheddar shreds have melted, turn off the heat.
  • In a large oven-safe casserole dish, mix the drained macaroni and Field Roast vegan sausage. Add the vegan cheese mixture and use a spoon to make sure that the macaroni is evenly topped with vegan cheese.
  • Top the mixture with breadcrumbs or oat bran.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is golden.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and enjoy!
The most beautiful melty, "cheesy", non-dairy meal I've ever had!

The most beautiful melty, “cheesy”, non-dairy meal I’ve ever had!

-Jess

Green Garden Vegan Alfredo

I was inspired to make this dish because of two things 1. I really wanted to somehow recreate a canned version of vegan alfredo sauce that I once tried, and 2. I spent the day in my grandma’s garden and came home with a bunch of fresh produce ready to be put into one of my kitchen creations!

Tomatoes fresh off the vine!

Tomatoes fresh off the vine!

The following recipe might take some time to cook, but it’s worth it!

The Sauce

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup yellow onion, thinly chopped
  • ¼ cup (or less) unsweetened, plain soy milk
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • several leaves of fresh basil, or ½ tsp. dried basil
  • several leaves of fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup raw, soaked whole cashews
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast

Directions:

  • Before starting anything, soak the raw cashews in a bowl with warm water for a few hours.
  • Well, don’t just sit there. Find something to do during those few hours 😉
  • Chop the onion and garlic
  • Add olive oil to a large pan, and add onion and garlic. Cook on low heat.
  • In a blender, blend the cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs together. If needed, add a little of the soaking water into the cashew/herb mixture to blend into a very thick liquid
  • Add the cashew mixture to the pan containing the oil, garlic, and onion. To obtain a thick, creamy mixture, add a little plain soymilk and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low until the mixture is a thick liquid, uniform in texture.

The Veggies (to sautée):

  • ¾ cup cut baby bella mushrooms (or use regular large portabella mushrooms and cut into small pieces)
  • ½ cup onions, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup kale, chopped
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, each one halved
  • several leaves of fresh basil

Directions:

  • Use non-stick cooking spray or a tsp. or two of olive oil to grease a pan
  • Add onion and garlic, and cook on low-heat
  • As the onion and garlic cook, add in mushrooms, kale, and halved baby tomatoes
  • Cook for a few minutes and for the last minute or so, heat the basil in the pan (there will be some discoloration of the basil as it cooks, that’s ok!)

The Pasta

  • 4 oz. of your favorite fettucine noodles. I used a special edamame-flour noodle found at a specialty health food store (that I happen to work at), but feel free to use whole wheat fettucine, brown rice fettuicine, etc.
  • Boil water in a pot, and cook noodles until tender.
  • Drain when done and allow a few minutes to pass so that all the moisture drains.

The Final Product

IMG_6883

Add the veggies to the pasta and fold in the alfredo sauce. Serve on a plate or bowl and top with basil leaves. Add pepper to taste and enjoy!

-Jess

Eat Local: Mexican Inspired Summer Salad

One of the best things about summer is that it’s a great time to use ingredients that are grown locally. Shopping at farmers markets and stores that support community agriculture is one way to live healthier for yourself and for the planet. The following recipe was inspired by local tomatoes, corn, and beets. This recipe is vegan, gluten free, and makes a great main course, side dish, and can also be used as a dip or cracker topping. Whichever way you eat it, enjoy it!

Mexican Inspired Simple Summer SaladIMG_6567

Ingredients:

  • 2 beets, peeled
  • 1 ear of corn, cut off the cob (note: I didn’t cook the corn I used, but if you want, you can also boil it along with the beets).
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 can of black blacks, drained
  • juice of 1 lime
  • cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot, and while you’re waiting, peel the beets and cut the other ingredients. The avocado and tomato can be diced or cubed. Remove the corn from the cob and set aside ingredients.
  • Place the beets in the boiling water and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes or until soft.
  • Remove the beets from the boiling water and allow to cool. Then, cube the beets using a knife.
  • Drain the black beans, and mix the corn, beets, tomato, and avocado together.
  • Add the lime and orange juice, salt and pepper, and optional cilantro. Allow to marinate for a bit (the amount of time is completely up to you!)
  • Enjoy as a main course by adding this to taco shells, or enjoy as a side dish.

-Jess

A Berry Good Smoothie

The spring semester has come to a close! (yay). I’ve completed another year as a nutrition student, and now I have just another year until I’m done with my master’s. One thing that got me through finals was having quick meals packed with nutrition. A favorite meal during finals (and whenever, really) is the following smoothie recipe. It’s packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and it’s delicious!

A Berry Good Smoothie

IMG_5734

  • 6 oz. blueberry or vanilla coconut milk yogurt (I use so delicious brand). You can also use almond milk yogurt or any other kind of dairy-free yogurt that pleases your tastebuds
  • 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 scoop vegan (or not) protein. (I use Garden of Life Plant Protein in smooth vanilla flavor)
  • 1/2 cup soymilk (or nondairy milk) + 1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend on high until uniform in texture and appearance. Pour into a large cup and enjoy! This makes a large portion, so feel free to share with a friend or divide into two and enjoy half of it for a snack later.

-Jess

Over the Moon for Overnight Oats

If you’re like me, you rarely have time to eat a complete meal in the morning, or if you do, it feels rushed. Enter the genius concept of overnight oats. No longer will you feel frazzled as you try to prepare something healthy in the early hours of the AM, because you’re going to do it the night before (muah-ha-ha…that’s my attempt at evil laughing). These oats are packed with fiber from the oats, fruit, and chia seeds, along with some plant-based protein, and healthy fats.

Overnight Oats with Fruit, Chia Seeds, and Almond Butter 

IMG_5558

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, uncooked
  • 2/3 cup soy milk or almond milk (or your favorite milk/nondairy milk)
  • 1 tbsp. uncooked chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup berries of your choice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 of a banana
  • (optional) sprinkle cinnamon

Directions *important- do this the day/night before you plan to eat this*

  • In a mason jar or bowl, add oats, then soy milk (or other milk), and chia seeds, stir. If the oats still seem dry, add a little more soy milk (or other milk)
  • Add fruit, and sprinkle cinnamon (if desired), stir mixture
  • Cover the mason jar or bowl
  • Transfer to the refrigerator and let sit for at least 10 hours (preferably 12)
  • The next morning, uncover your oat creation and add a tablespoon of your favorite almond or other nut butter
  • Enjoy!

This is a breakfast I’ve been eating lately and it makes my morning meal prep super easy because all I have to do is remove from the fridge and add a little AB (almond butter). The oats will be fluffy and ready to eat without microwaving, which makes this a great morning meal for the summer months (because who wants to eat a hot meal when its 90 degrees out. Not this girl!).  I look forward to sharing more of my healthy meal ideas as soon as my spring semester winds down!

-Jess

My (new) Favorite Vegan Restaurant + Some Updates

I feel like I start every post lately explaining how busy I am, but it’s true! School is definitely hard this semester. This post is going to be a personal one, because I haven’t been cooking anything too creative lately (ok, that’s a lie, I’ve been making some delicious kale salads but I keep forgetting to take pictures of my creations and a food post without a picture is just sad.)

If you read my last post, you learned that I “ended” my vegan diet because I craved fish and chicken, etc. Well, I’m back to my old vegan ways because I kept getting grossed out about making meat and found I was completely dependent on prepared foods (like already cooked meat at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, which ends up being really expensive). To me, being grossed out by cooking a particular food item is a sign that its just not going to work out. Now that I tried experimenting with a “flexitarian” diet, I feel I can return to my vegan ways and avoid some of the cravings that were sneaking up on me by paying closer attention to micronutrients to avoid certain deficiencies.

Although I’ve been busy, I did get a chance to take a mini-vacay in upstate NY where I ate at Garden Cafe on the Green, a cute vegan restaurant in Woodstock. I ate there twice. The first occasion I had a chickpea wrap with oven-roasted potato “fries) and the second time I had a blackbean-sweet potato burger. Both meals were delicious and I highly recommend the place if you happen to be in the Woodstock, NY-area.

a picture of the chickpea wrap at Garden Cafe.

a picture of the chickpea wrap at Garden Cafe.

 

In addition to eating, I also got to spend much time outdoors during my upstate getaway. I love exploring nature! This blogs tagline is “food for the mind, body, and soul” and I believe being in nature is one source of “food” for the all of the above! Fun fact: I actually used to be the education director of a nature preserve before I decided to go back to school for nutrition!

Had to stop and take a photo of this beauty!

Had to stop and take a photo of this beauty!

a birds nest I saw while hiking

a birds nest I saw while hiking

On a nutrition note, spending time outside, especially when it’s sunny, is a good way to boost your vitamin D intake, which often decreases during the winter months.

A short vacation wouldn’t be complete without going to a few souvenir shops, and that I did. Woodstock is a fun little town with a ton of cool stores that show it’s grooooovy history 🙂

a sculpture made of various knick-knacks

a sculpture made of various knick-knacks

Inside a thrift store.

Inside a thrift store.

I hopefully will have more time to post some of my recipes. After April I have finals for the spring semester…followed by two summer classes but making time for food (and creating healthy recipes) will always be something I love to share!

-Jess

Falafel With A Green Twist

Hello readers! It’s been almost a month since I last posted. As you can tell, I’ve been pretty busy! I started the spring semester in late january and my yoga teacher training is almost done (although, I still have a lot of work to do, including a yoga practical and teaching a class on my own!). This semester is jam-packed for me because I decided to double-up on credits, so I’m actually taking double the amount of graduate courses I’m expected to…whoops! Since this blog isn’t about my academic career, I’ll switch gears now and talk about the delicious recipes I’ve been cooking up. Having limited time has actually made me become a little more creative when it comes to cooking, which is good, because as any busy vegan can tell you, microwaved veggie burgers can get awfully boring after a while.

Falafel has been a favorite food of mine, and it’s my go-to order at any middle-eastern restaurant. I decided to create my own healthier version of falafel, with added collard greens into the mixture. This recipe is tasty, easy, and not too labor intensive, so have fun and enjoy!

My new favorite collard greens falafel with a nice amount of hummus in a wrap

My new favorite collard greens falafel with a nice amount of hummus in a wrap

Ingredients (makes about 9 falafel balls/patties)

  • 1 fifteen oz. can of chickpeas
  • 3 large collard leaves, stems removed
  • 3 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or other whole-grain flour
  • 3 tbsp. oil (for the pan)

Directions

  • Combine chickpeas, collard greens, spices, and flour in a food processor and process until you have a uniform mixture (about a minute or two of total food processing time). If you don’t have a food processor, you can try using a blender but the food processor is your best bet for this recipe.
  • Pour oil into the pan
  • Spoon out chickpea mixture into ball shapes and onto the pan and cook on medium heat
  • Allow each chickpea ball to lightly brown and then flip on each side
  • If you find that the chickpea balls aren’t cooking all the way through, feel free to flatten them a bit to create more of a “patty” than a ball. Don’t worry, it will still taste just as good!
  • After cooking, allow to cool, and then enjoy in a wrap, pita, or with a generous helping of hummus (or your favorite dip!)

-Jess