Saturday, October 3, 2015


My birthday is coming up so I decided to have a few friends over to celebrate. I also decided since it was for my birthday after all, that I would whip up a vegan dessert - despite the non-vegan company! I found this recipe for a vegan cheesecake on and it was delicious! Their version calls for strawberries on top, but I'm not a strawberry fan, and I decided to add chocolate chips, but Happy Herbivore gets all the credit for dreaming up this yummy creation!

12 ounces Tofutti cream cheese
⅔ cup raw sugar
¾ tsp almond extract
2 tbsp cornstarch
⅔ cup non-dairy chocolate chips 
12 ounces mori-nu tofu, extra firm

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare pie crust if you have not already done so. Drain tofu and transfer to a blender along with the cream cheese. Blend for 30 seconds, scrape the sides, and blend for another 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients (except crust) and blend for 3 minutes, stopping periodically to scrape the sides. 

Once fully incorporated, pour into prepared pie crust and smooth top with a spatula. Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven and place somewhere away from heat. Allow to cool to room temperature (about 2-3 hours). Chill overnight or for at least 10 hours before serving. 

For a topping, let frozen strawberries defrost (in a bowl or in their bag.) Serve over the cheesecake.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

For the Love of Kale

I caught an episode of the Food Network, and Giada De Laurentiis, who makes a lot of dishes I enjoy, was making a fabulous kale salad.  The recipe called for chicken, which I omitted, so here is the vegan version of the recipe:

5 c Tuscan kale, chopped
1 15.5 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 TBSP tahini
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice, from 1 large lemon
1/3 c extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c dried cranberries
Za'atar seasoning (optional)

Heat a small sautee pan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly.  

In a large bowl, whisk together the tahini and lemon juice.  Gradually whisk in the garlic oil. 

Add the kale, salt and chickpeas and gently toss together, bringing the dressing up from the bottom to coat everything evenly.  

Add the cranberries and toss.  Sprinkle with za'atar if desired.  Serve.

This salad so inspired me that when I stopped into Candle Cafe, on NYC's Upper East Side, I had a kale salad of a different kind:  It was a vegan kale caesar salad with corn, pickled onions, cashew cheese and grilled tempeh.  So gorgeous and vibrant, not to mention theirs is the only tempeh I like, even after all these years of being vegan!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Another Reason to Love Jeff Bridges

Jeff Bridges is a star, but this time it is because of his concern for our planet.  

Plastic is everywhere but it does not have to be.  Consider these facts:

"Plastic is a substance the earth does not digest."  Most of it winds up in landfills and oceans.

"A plastic bottle cannot be a plastic bottle again."  It works for glass but not plastic - it is downcycling, not recycling.

Almost 90% of trash is plastic. 

Chemicals in plastic, absorbed by our bodies, can lead to health issues including hormone disruption and endocrine issues, and are attributable to some cancers.

Jeff shared online, "As a member of the Plastic Pollution Coalition, I'm excited to share the launch of their new website!  Check out for information about plastic pollution and its toxic impacts as well as what YOU can do to reduce your plastic footprint."

Visit the website to learn more and think about what you can do - glass, paper bags, reusable canvas bags, wax paper, and so forth...

The Plastic Pollution Coalition mission is to stop plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, the ocean and the environment. PPC was founded in 2009 as a platform to amplify a common message through strategic planning and communication. Our more than 400 member organizations and a growing coalition of individuals seek to increase awareness and understanding of the plastic pollution problem, and to find sustainable solutions. We aim to empower more people and more organizations to take action to stop plastic pollution and to live plastic-free.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Rosh Hashanah Dining

It is that time of year again when Jews around the world gather to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish new year.

For those of us lucky enough to be near family at this time, we come together and share in a festive meal.  A round challah, signifying the cycle of life is served (tough to find ones made without egg for sure) and apples are dipped in honey to start the year on a sweet note.

I am hosting dinner, as I always do, and while there are some holiday staples I won't be partaking in (brisket, matzah ball soup and a very dairy kugel,) I decided to whip up some vegan dishes that would still help to make this a festive dinner. While I made these for Rosh Hashanah, there is no reason you can't add them to your erev Yom Kippur or break fast menu!

One of my go-to, easy dishes is sauteed green beans.  A simple side I usually make with almonds, but this year will be cooked up with some sauteed, wilted shallots.  That's the only staple I kept on the menu of recipes this year.

I was in Balducci's, a gorgeous market in Westport, Connecticut, and just wandered the aisles looking for inspiration.  I found 4 different colored heirloom carrots and a package of butternut squash.  I washed them all, cut them finely, and put them in a baking dish.  To them I added about 1/4 c agave nectar, 1/4 c vegan butter and a generous pinch of salt and put it in a convection over to bake at 350 for a half hour.  Stirring a long the way, I then finished it off on roast and added 1 diced granny smith apple, skin on, at that time. Gorgeous, harvest-like and perfect with the bit of apple for the holiday.

I wanted some protein to round out the meal, and a bit of starch for people, like me, not leaning towards the heavy kugel, so in a baking dish I placed one pint of cherry tomatoes (halve them first,) one can of drained, organic chickpeas, a drizzle of both olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a pinch of kosher salt and a small handful of finely chopped basil.  I baked that until the tomatoes are well cooked and juicy, mixing as I went so the chickpeas didn't get dried out.  In the meantime, I cooked up orzo - a full package as dinner has to serve 13!  Once the orzo was cooked and drained, and the beans were done cooking, I combined it all, rounding it out with a bit more olive oil, salt to taste and a small handful more each of flat leaf parsley and basil.  It's resting overnight to cool and allow all of the flavors to blend.  Delish!  With the extra can of chickpeas I purchased, I made a hummus - my cheese plate alternative - with tahini, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and more of that flat leaf parsley.  

Lastly, tomorrow I will be roasting eggplant onto which I will then ladle a creamy tahini dressing.  Maybe I have the Mediterranean on my mind?  I also already have some colorful berries - raspberries, strawberries, black and blueberries - all ready to go, and some apples and honey of course!  (I know not all vegans eat honey but I do.)  To those of you celebrating, have a wonderful, tasty and meaningful holiday!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Creating in the Kitchen

It has been a busy weekend full of lots of travel, some sightseeing, and spending time with friends and with family, but finally it was time to go food shopping.  

You know it's bad when your son opens the fridge and says, "Mom, we don't even have ketchup - I think it's time!"

To today, amidst lunch with more family, and some errands we had to get done, we went to Whole Foods, my favorite local grocery store. I had to get some things for dinner tonight, and the week in general, not to mention some ingredients so I can start prepping for the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, when I'll be hosting a bunch of family for dinner. 
On a recent trip to Gansevoort Market in the Meatpacking District in lower NYC, I had a salad with roast cabbage - a first for me.  When some Napa cabbage caught my eye at the market today, I knew I wanted to give roasting my own a try.  I also picked up some cauliflower and red jacket broccoli and figured I'd throw it all in together.  When I got home and unpacked my groceries, I remembered I had lots of granny smith apples which I had bought for holiday cooking too so I switched up my plan.
With the cabbage, I discarded the outer leaves, cut it into 1/8's, and placed it in a round Pyrex baking dish.  I then cut a granny smith apple into large chunks, skin still on, and added it to the cabbage.  I drizzled avocado oil over the two, and then sprinkled seasoned sesame seeds and a little kosher salt on top, and popped it in to roast at 400 for 20-30 minutes.  It will brown, so remove it from the oven, separate the leaves, and put it back (maybe add a bit more oil) and continue cooking until the cabbage is both a little crispy and tender. I'd then add some vegan and a little more salt to taste. I may add some diced avocado once it cools, or toss it over some pasta!

In a second baking dish, I placed rinsed, de-stemmed, chopped broccoli and cauliflower.  To that I added some olive oil, a little more of those seasoned sesame seeds, and topped it all with coconut aminos.  Coconut aminos are similar to soy sauce, but are soy-free, gluten-free and have no MSG. They are also high in amino acids, thus the name, adding a nutritional benefit great for vegans in particular.  Not only do these dishes look pretty, they are so good for you and will surely make great additions to one of my meals this week!

Hopefully I inspired you to get a little creative in the kitchen today! Bathing suit season may have neared its end on the East Coast, but healthy eating is always in season!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Cuckoo for Cocoa

I was in Boston last weekend and went back to this great outdoor market place, locally known as SoWa.  They have three sections: one with a variety of food trucks (where I had an awesome vegan truffle mushroom pizza!), one with crafts (where I bought a few fun gift items) and one which is a farmer's market, conveniently situated between the two. 
Obviously you expect vegan-friendly items at a farmer's market: corn, eggplant, tomatoes of a million varieties, sunflowers...I did not expect vegan ice cream and I certainly did not expect a full line of vegan chocolate!

Thanks to Taza, I think I had a full meal's worth of samples!  This non-dairy line, which can be found nationally in places like Whole Foods, has a great variety of flavors, including Wicked Dark - a nod to their Boston (or should I say Bah-stan) roots.

I tried toffee almond sea salt. Try that for your next mole.

I tried stone ground chocolate.  Melt that into some hot cocoa...

I tried Mexican chocolate (the round items you see) with guajillo peppers.  Yup.  Wait 7 seconds like they tell you to, and you'll feel that heat right in the back of your throat!  Perfect for a cold, wintry day.

I tried the cacao nibs.  Just a few are a great energy boost.

I know - I know.  I just wrote about chocolate last week, but I guess I'm cuckoo for cocoa these days.  If you go and sample some, you'll see why!  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Chocolate of a Different Hu

I know what you skeptics are thinking.  There is no way vegan chocolate can be any good.  It has to be bitter or hard or filled with grass.  Just kidding – those impressions may not be true, but there are surely people wondering how it could possibly be worth the calories.
Hu Kitchen has a chocolate bar that will change your mind, and if you live in NYC, Butterfield Market has stocked up on some for you! 

Hu Kitchen in NYC, claims they “are a haven for all things human – not just a place to grab food but a destination, a trusted partner in the shared goal of reclaiming what is means to eat and live deliciously.” Guess what, they make chocolate bars with that philosophy in mind, and they are truly delicious!  Just give them to a bunch of teenagers, unwrap them and hide the words “paleo” and “vegan” and they will disappear in no time.

If you’re a traditionalist, go with a plain bar.  Otherwise you can try almond butter and puffed quinoa or the salty chocolate.  It’s chocolate after all.  Can it really be that risky to try them all?  Vegan or not, you can identify and pronounce every single ingredient.  For that reason alone, isn’t it worth picking one (or a bunch) today?