Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chcolatey Decadence for Valentine's Day

Loving the look and sound of this gorgeous vegan dessert featured in VegNews Magazine!

Happy Valentine's Day treat for that special someone...even if that special someone is you!

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Mini Mexican Chocolate Soufflés
Valentine’s Day is this Sunday, and our recipe for Mini Mexican Chocolate Soufflés are sure to wow any lovebird. This spicy, sweet dessert is whipped up in just two easy steps and will dazzle your date thanks to cayenne, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and chili powder. If these don’t get your heart pumping, nothing will!
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Makes 2 soufflés
What You Need:

1 tablespoon vegan margarine
1/2 cup sugar, divided, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips, melted
1/2 cup chocolate soy milk
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla bean
2 tablespoons egg replacer
1-1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
Powdered sugar, for garnish
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What You Do:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease 2 6-ounce ramekins with margarine and dust with sugar. In a large bowl, add remaining ingredients except powdered sugar. Using an electric hand-held mixer, blend while tipping bowl slightly to create a fluffy batter.

2. Fill each ramekin 3/4 full with batter, careful not to overfill, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Photo by Vanessa K. Rees

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Get Your GLO on with GLOsquad

I recently discovered GLOsquad, a skin lounge just around the corner from my office in Greenwich, Connecticut, who believes that skin maintenance is a necessity not a luxury. 

What I love about the lounge is that all of their treatments are 30 minutes or less and priced so reasonably that any of us can do them on a regular basis.  One of the best parts is that they are powered by probiotics, a healthy way to combat all of the signs associated with anti-aging and problematic skin by building skin from the inside out.   In fact, in 2014 the American Academy of Dermatologists named probiotics the newest beauty breakthrough. 

Skin, the largest organ of the body, has it's own immune system too.  Empirical data shows if we can do one thing to our skin to induce an anti-aging effect, it is to strengthen it’s immune system. Similar to ingested supplements, topically applied probiotics will do this and stimulate a reparative and proliferative response to skin cells (meaning stimulating protein synthesis a.k.a. collagen and elastin!) plus a powerfully anti-inflammatory. Being a vegan, I appreciate a healthy approach to healthy skin plus the fact that GLOsquad promotes clean living with treatments and products that are free of ingredients that can harm us, including use of known xenoestrogens that can disrupt our important endocrine and reporductive processes within the body. 

Key xenoestrogens they avoid are:
·        Parabens - Parabens are defined as chemicals used as preservatives to fight bacteria and fungus in foods, cosmetics, toiletries and pharmaceuticals. We have a higher exposure to parabens with cosmetics/toiletries as they bypass the GI tract where they might be broken down. Studies show they may be linked to cancer and have been found in breast tumors. Most products sold in the mass market will contain parabens and many contain 3-5 different parabens.
·        Phthalates - Phthalates are defined as esters of phthalic acid and used mainly as plasticizers (substances that add flexibility, transparency, durability and longevity). Most countries in Europe have banned Phthalates in their products but the FDA is still allowing the use of phthalates in many products in the US. They are used in large variety of products including personal care products, food products, pharmaceuticals, children's toys, medical devices, etc. As plastics age and break down, the release of phthalates accelerates. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors- linked to breast cancer and birth defects and may also be linked to obesity. There is also new information that links phthalates and the early on-set of menopause.
·        Sulfates - Sulfates (SLS) are surfactants and found in almost all products that foam. They dissolve skin oils and damage the skins' protective layer. SLS denature proteins and cause irritation and allow environmental contaminants easier access to the lower, sensitive layers of the skin. SLS can be very irritating and have been used to create skin irritations in the labs to measure the healing characteristics of anti-inflammatory drugs. SLS can cause eye irritation which can be acute corneal damage or damage through absorption in a non-eye area. As mutagenicity, SLS has been strongly linked to cancer.
·        Artificial dyes - Artificial dyes cause an increased risk of allergies, asthma, hyperactivity, behavior problems in children, increased risk of developing Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma and lymphoma. When we see hyperactive children and adults, it is suggested that by simply removing all the artificial colors from their diets often times their symptoms decrease.

But, they also have active ingredients to help with whatever skin problems you may have.  I had their GLObiotic treatment which is packed with probiotics and my skin was amazing afterwards.  I was nervous as I was on my way to dinner in the city but it was gorgeous - literally glowing!! 

If you want to help your skin in a healthy way, you should definitely go.  GLOsquad allows people to take care of their skin professionally, on a regular basis and is focused on educating clients.  They treat tweens, teens, women and men.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Vegan Bolognese

We haven't had much of a winter on the East Coast, but it's been chilly enough that hot meals have been a preference of mine for many an evening.  I don't eat a lot of pasta, but after a delicious zucchini pasta dish I had recently, I developed a craving.  I was trying to decide how to make a hearty sauce so that I could enjoy my pasta but not consume too many calories.  Here is what I came up with ~ a vegan bolognese.  It was a perfect solution and I froze the extra sauce!

You will need:

1.5 small yellow onion, diced
1 c wild mushrooms, chopped 
1 package shiitake, stems removed, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Handful of flat leaf parsley
1 TBSP vegan butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1 box of pasta of your choosing: spaghetti, farfalle, penne, quinoa, brown rice or regular...anything will do!
1 jar of your favorite sauce (I love Rao's)

In a small sautee pan, heat the olive oil, add a touch of salt, and cook the onion until it starts to brown and become a bit translucent.

At the same time, bring a medium pot of water to boil.

Next add the mushrooms to the onions, and continue to cook until well combined and tender, adding the butter as it all cooks together.

Cook your pasta to your liking.  I prefer al dente.  Drain the water, but do not rinse.  Sauce sticks better when some of the wet starch lingers on the noodles.

Add the noodles back to the pot, with the mushroom mixture, and the jar of sauce, and heat on a low temperature until everything is warm again.

Plate, top with fresh parsley, and serve!





Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cauliflower Au "Gratin"

The meteorologists were right - it's snowing in NY. And might I add - finally! I am not a fan of the cold, but I love the look of a fresh, snowy landscape and it's NY after all - it should snow!!

It is rare that I take a day to do nothing. It's not really nothing, but it means stay in pj's, make some good coffee, read a book, catch up on tv.

Since I'm home, and don't want to spend the day snacking when I get bored, I figured I'd see what I have to cook up.  With 2 small heads of cauliflower, some vegan cheese, fresh parsley and a lemon I decided to make a vegan cauliflower au gratin.

I washed and chopped 2 small heads of cauliflower, and topped them with a small handful of fresh, chopped parsley.  I then sprayed it generously with baking spray (olive oil would be better) and the juice of one big lemon.  

I put all of that in to roast at 450 degrees.  Once it started to crisp, I removed it, sprayed more baking spray (again, olive oil would add more flavor but I was trying to avoid the calories today) and sprinkled nutritional yeast over the top (maybe 2 TBSP) for a pop of B12, and then sprinkled a half cup of Daiya shredded cheddar.  I kept it going until the cauliflower was tender and the cheese was browning.  So healthy and delicious and a nice twist!  Next time I may steam and purée the cauliflower and then bake it with the lemon, parsley, nutritional yeast, olive oil and cheese...yummy and gooey...

Monday, January 4, 2016

Vegan Street Fare


I just got back from vacation in Puerto Rico.  It was glorious! Clear blue skies (minus a few scattered mometns of rain) and temperatures in the 80's every day surrounded by four generations of family, for which I am grateful.

The food however, was not one of the items highest on my list for gratitude.  It was fine, passable, but my favorite meals came from, of all places, a food truck!  

The truck was called El Kono and they served fresh Puerto Rican street food - in plantain cones! Let me tell you...this was some tasty, savory, flavorful goodness!

While there were 5 or 6 non-vegan varieties - pork, shrimp, crab salad, skirt steak, etc. the vegan one was so good that I had it for lunch three days in a row.

Imagine smashed plantains, salted and fried into a waffle cone of sorts.  Then fill it with 3 kinds of beans, cilantro, olive oil, fresh lime juice, a little red onion and some ripe avocado. It was seriously fabulous.

We got home late Saturday night and Sunday I went to the store.  I bought all of the ingredients, minus the red onion, and while I had no interest in buying a deep frier and smashing plantains (not so native to NY,) I did buy plantain chips.

I combined one can each of black, kidney and garbanzo beans.  I added a handful of chopped cilantro, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of two limes, and one diced ripe avocado. I let that marinate overnight.  At lunch today I added some crushed plantain chips and voila!  A slightly healthier, just as delicious and protein-packed meal.   

Trust me, if you want a taste of the Caribbean, can't quite get there today, and want something tasty, healthy and filling, this is a dish you need to try,

Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Food Miracle

I am leaving for vacation in the morning - 3am to be precise - so today I was busy cleaning out the fridge.  I had just purchased Heidi Ho smoky chia cheeze, a head of cauliflower and a package of gorgeous wild mushrooms from Whole Foods, none of which would survive my time away, in either the fridge or the freezer.  I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought them but I was on my way home from SoulCycle and I guess I was feeling motivated to make something healthy!

I already had a package of shredded kale and brussel sprouts I had purchased at Stew Leonard's last weekend, some Rao's marinara sauce (my favorite) and some roasted tomatoes in a touch of olive oil and minced garlic.

I figured if everything would wind up in the garbage if I didn't do anything, I might as well try something. The result was vegan, healthy, savory and delicious! 

I preheated the oven to roast at 450 degrees and sprayed a metal baking sheet with non-stick baking spray.

I lined the bottom of the pan with 1.5 cups of the shredded kale and brussel sprouts, 2/3 of the chopped cauliflower florettes and the package (@ 1.5 cups) of wild mushrooms.

On top of that I poured 1 cup of the Rao's marinara sauce, 3 big dollops of the Heidi Ho smoky chia cheeze and a 1/2 cup of the roasted tomatoes. (If you don't have these marinated in your market, roast your own in 1 TBSP olive oil and 1/4 tsp minced garlic.)

Put it all in the oven, mixing after 10 minutes, and keep roasting until it's oozing, the kale is crispy and the cauliflower is super tender.

Serve hot and enjoy! It easily serves 4 (or 2 meal size portions at a minimum.) You could pair it with a glass of your favorite red wine to finish it off.  Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Brrrrr...eakfast

Today was one of those days - my body wanted something super carb-y after the gym but my mind told me clean and lean was the way to go. With vacation looming, and coming off a month of a totally irregular schedule (not sure what regular is anymore but I digress...) this trendy vegan went clean and lean.

I picked up an acai bowl called the Nutty Elvis.  It was FREEZING but totally satisfying. Since I didn't share any, I figured the least I could do is tell you how to make it at home.

Pick up some acai juice and blend it with frozen blueberries and strawberries. You want it to be a very thick consistency, almost like a slightly melted sorbet.  Warm a bit of peanut butter (1/4 cup should do it but you can do more) while your blender is going, and slice up half a banana.

Place half of your berry mixture in a small bowl and top with half of the peanut butter and half of the bananas. Then repeat. Of course you want that top layer to look pretty for the 2 seconds before you dig in, so place those banana slices nicely! Sprinkle crushed hemp seeds on top and enjoy!