Thursday, June 19, 2008


Boy am I being a slacker. Another interjection:

Lately, I've been overloading on Omega-3's, because I don't think I was getting enough before. It's difficult to get as a vegan, so many soy products are fortified. Take those out of your diet and you're not left with many options. My suggestions include flax oil, milled flax seed, walnuts, and nutrition bars. I sneak milled flax seed into my cereal, sanwiches, even entrees. The taste is barely there, its low-fat and inexpensive. With 3-4 tablespoons of milled flax seed everyday, I am ingesting more than the recommended amount of around 1.5g (wikipedia). I think this is a good idea for the following reasons:

Omega-3's play a significant role in brain function because they are a major component of the brain--8 percent!--mostly in myelin sheaths. Recent research suggests that an increased intake of Omega-3's can help with depression, anxiety, and other mental issues like autism. (wikipedia)

Omega-3's are potentially beneficial for so many other conditions as well--circulation, cholesterol, etc.

I can tell the difference already in the condition of my hair and skin. My hair started behaving so much better--silky soft and not frizzy--just over a week after I started supplementation. Also, I have less dry skin, though this could be the weather. Still, I am encouraged by the obvious physical benefits.

Getting Omega-3's from plant sources is much safer than from animal products, for reasons all good vegans should be familiar with (growth hormones, mercury...). I would recommend adding a little flax seed to your diet, even if you aren't veg. Only the milled stuff though, as the whole seeds will not digest.
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Friday, June 6, 2008

Potato Latkes

I interrupt the series on snack bars to bring you a recipe I made last night. I adapted this from several sources and added a few things of my own. This can be a very low fat recipe; if you don't use oil to fry, they still taste great! An elaborated version of a traditional Jewish dish:

5 lbs russet potatoes
1 large onion
3-4 carrots
1 bunch scallions
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 cup matzo meal
1 t corn starch
1/2 t white pepper
3/4 t sage
salt to taste
oil, if desired

Put a large pot of water on the stove and set the heat to high to get it boiling before you're through with preparation. Peel potatoes. Shred the potatoes, onion, and carrots (I recommend a food processor for this). Have a strainer handy and dump all that you've just shredded into the now boiling water. If you'd like, add some salt to the water as this can help make things less starchy. Keep close watch over the veggies--test them frequently! Once they are almost cooked (very slightly chewy, around 3-5 minutes), remove them with a strainer and rinse them thoroughly under cold water to halt the cooking. This process of pre-cooking veggies is referred to as blanching.

Dry out the veggies you just blanched. I tried pressing some of the water out like other recipes suggested, but found this wasn't very effective. So, I just let my potato, onion, carrot mixture sit for an hour or so with occasional stirring.

Add the other ingredients (chop scallions first) and mix thoroughly. Measure out each pancake in a 1/4 cup measuring cup and fry in a pan over med-high heat. Use a spatula to flatten the pancakes. You may choose to use oil for frying, but they don't need it, so just watch them carefully. Cook on both sides until crispy brown.

Traditionally served with applesauce and sour cream. Tofutti sour cream is great for soy-happy vegans, but I used ketchup instead. Really, these have enough flavor on their own that they don't need condiments. I hope you enjoy!
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Dr. Weil Bars by Nature's Path

Nature's Path

Taste: ***
Price: *

EXPENSIVE. But, damn tasty. I've been trying a lot of date bars for these blog posts and didn't expect anything new from Dr. Weil. However, the flavor of the Pistachi-Oh! bar was very different and delicious. Nutritional content varies somewhat from flavor to flavor, but for the most part the vitamins and minerals included are limited by simplicity of ingredients. I wish they didn't cost so much!
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

LUNA Tea Cakes

Taste: *
Price: ***
Nutrition: ***

Cliff bar does make a soy-free product, apparently. I tried the orange blossom flavor and wasn't pleased by the taste, but I asked a friend to try and they liked it a lot so maybe I'm just being picky. Some protein and lots of vitamins. Also, infused with tea and well priced. Not a bad option if the flavor suits you.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Snack Bars

Formerly, Cliff Bars were a staple of my life. But, like most vegan snack/meal bars, they are loaded with soy. This has been one of my biggest frustrations--I've read so many freakin labels, covered aisles worth of different bars, and haven't really found one yet that can hold up to the soy-based bars in terms of nutrition, taste, and economy. The quest has begun.

Here, I start a list of my findings. I will rate each bar according to taste, price, and nutrition by a three star system, one being the worst and three being the best.


Taste: ***
Price: **
Nutrition: **

They are tasty and attractively simplistic. All bars are date based and have some kind of nut in them (cashew, walnut). The ingredient lists are so short! No added sugar besides the fruit and creative flavors (cashew cookie, lemon bar...) keep things interesting. That said, dates are not everyone's thing, and these bars are too sugary for me sometimes. Also, nuts are fatty so if you're watching your waistline, the LARABAR probably isn't for you. Falls short in nutritional extras like vitamins--the trade-off for simple ingredients. Overall, one of my favorites.

EDIT: Walnuts are a great source of Omega 3's and many LARABAR flavors contain walnuts. I was wrong to generalize that the bars are low in Omega 3's!

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Margarine/Butter Substitute

"Ghee" is clarified butter that is often used in Indian cuisine. Apparently they make a vegan version too! I found ghee at my local Indian grocer. They had a couple of varieties, one of which was hydrogenated and the other was mostly palm oil. Either way, not healthy. But it works better than regular oil as a butter substitute and doesn't contain any soy. Several brands are available, so if you can't find any at a store near you just do a google search.
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Monday, February 18, 2008

Vegan Kheer--Indian Rice Pudding

Made a delicious indian food feast with my friends this past weekend, my main contribution being, of course, dessert! I decided to vegan-ize kheer, a soupy rice pudding usually made with cream. Here's what I came up with:

8 cups almond milk
0.5 cup rice
0.5 cup sugar
0.25 to 0.5 t cardamom powder
sprinkle of nutmeg
chopped almonds and pistachios to taste, a few tablespoons is good
a pinch of saffron

Wash rice. Boil the milk in a saucepan and add the rice about 5 minutes after it starts boiling. Keep boiling off the liquid fairly rapidly with stirring until its around half the original volume, then add the sugar and spice. Cook for another 8 minutes or so. Remove from heat and garnish with nuts and maybe some extra saffron.

Rice milk might work for this too.
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