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Dress Up Your Ramen!

Once in awhile, like most people, I get a hankering for “gross foods”. “Gross foods”, for me at least, correlate to foods that don’t do much in the way of improving one’s health and all in all, lack any nutrition content. But them gross foods sureeee doooo hit the spot!!! Ramen noodles are one of the foods that most certainly fall under this category. Lacking a large amount of protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals, this a food that you eat at night when you are super starved, kind of craving something salty and don’t feel like putting too much thought into your meal. Ironically though ramen soups, and similar soups like Pho, have been popping up as staple menu items in restaurants all over the world. So why not enjoy some “gross foods” after enduring a frenzied day?

The only variety of “Top Ramen” noodles that are vegetarian, would be the “Oriental” variety. To dress up this ramen, I simply throw in a bunch of veggies, and at times tofu or fake meat. Typically Lauren and I seek out a bag of frozen veggies that have a blend of mushrooms, broccoli, and green beans, but then once in awhile on these “gross foods” nights, we may have enough energy to chop up fresh veggies and throw them in the mix.

Simply cook the ramen according to package directions and throw in the veggies whilst boiling the noodles. Once everything is soft, but not too soft, because ramen noodles that are too soft take on an engorged and watery quality, add the seasoning packet. Now add a combination of garlic powder, curry powder, and a sprinkle of reduced sodium soy sauce. Or choose of those or hey, just be creative!

Again, this is not a nutritioius food! Do not go crazy and have too many “gross foods” nights, ramen is only something you should eat once in awhile, for us, that “once in awhile” was this evening. 😉 Bon apetit!

 

Almond Butter to the Rescue!

We all have those hurried mornings where we have no time to prepare breakfast at the house, and instead scramble to grab purses, wallets, jackets, or even just ourselves to get inside our cars to make our way to work. What is one thing I suggest not forgetting during this frenetic time? Almond Butter, and some whole grain English muffins or bread. If you don’t have time to quickly slap on some almond butter on your toast prior to engaging in the departure madness, then try and prepare it the night before!

Breakfast, or at least, a morning snack is critical to feeling okay for the rest of your day, particularly for yours truly (Without some kind of food in the morning, I quickly will turn kinda psycho). Almond butter is a spread that for me, sticks to me longer than peanut butter, and when spread on top of a lightly toasted bagel, muffin or bread slice is soo satisfying!

Almond butter is a better alternative to peanut butter because almond butter contains more calcium, protein, and has not been proven to rise your “good” cholesterol, whereas peanut butter has. Almond butter also has more B vitamins than it’s peanut rival.

So grab a banana, almond butter and toast on your way out the door and be a much happier doctor, writer, model, office warrior, or whatever awesome thing it is that you do during your day!

The Tale Of Crazy Shoes And Tasty Chinese Food

After I wrote my last entry, a preamble to what would be an entry about the amazing food that I discovered in San Francisco, I was diagnosed with a nasty skin infection.

The week prior to my vacation I was modeling for Wella Color Charm at the International Salon and Spa Expo. Four days straight I had my head in and out of a portable salon bowl whilst having the noxious fumes of hair dye enter my nasal passages. It was a blast! The first two days were “prep days”, wherein I was really going through the hair bowl scenario hardcore, and the next two days were spent marching throughout the convention center in sky high heels, demonstrating just how magnificent you can be with hair courtesy of Wella. Did I mention that for the majority of the time the sky-high heels were my own—comfy reliable and CLEAN? This is a preamble in and of itself, leading into how I acquired the nasty infection that led to the inevitable blog writing hiatus.

After walking industriously in my own heels throughout Sunday (First show day), I was told by a rather militant, albeit fabulous woman, that my heels just would not do. Can you imagine the look on my face? I was in mild pain, but my Steve Maddens were being good to me overall. The reason I was wearing my own shoes is because I was told that it was acceptable by another woman, and also due to the fact that they did not have any size 7’s.

Miss Fabulousity handed me a pair of size 8 heels, and demanded that I demonstrate my walk. If you’ve ever seen Devil Wears Prada, this woman equals Wintour 100%. She tartly said, “Well, you seem just fine!” flipped her strawberry blonde hair and flounced away, Armani scarf flowing frantically behind her. Not wanting to seem divalicious, I swallowed my pride and slipped on the shoes. Well, here it comes everyone, the shoes gave me not one, but two large welts! By the time I reached the stage, (felt like I was preparing for a role in which I had to play a nomadic gypsy) I was in tears and the backs of my ankles were RIPPED UP! Mutilated ankles aside, I still “rocked the runway”!

I won’t go into the rest, but I’ll just say self-medicating did not do the trick, and next time I have wounds that look like mean red gashes from a simple pair of heels, I will assume from the get go that I have an infection.  During my time in San Francisco, I had kept up with my Neosporin application and bandages, but the redness unfortunately seemed to only grow throughout the week after my return.  The Urgent Care doctor told me I either had a Streptococcus or Staphylococcus skin infection. Umm…yuck! Seems that Ms. Wintour’s preferred heels were carrying an icky bug. Next time I do any modeling job, I am schlepping some antibacterial spray for shoes. Any models or actresses reading—please take that advice!

So in the end it came down to my taking four 500 mg Keflex pills daily (antibiotic) for a duration of ten days, tomorrow will be my last. I also had to be on the lookout for MRSA—antibiotic resistant Staph—for the first several days. All in all, February really has been beyond nerve wracking. I will be so thrilled when the check for this job comes in.

Sadly there has been no time for cooking during this fiasco, but I did have the luxury of treating myself to some very delicious Vegan Shitake Curry from Green Leaves Vegetarian restaurant several times over. =D

So now that I’ve substantiated my huge break in writing, I can discuss how wonderful my dining experience was in San Francisco. Since living in Los Angeles, CA Lauren and I have not been able to pin down a really terrific Chinese Vegetarian restaurant. For the most part, Vegetarian restaurants out here that have an “Asian flare” are generally Thai in the Southland.  While we adore Thai food, we also get a hankering for Chinese. Me + Won Ton Soup= Amour Toujours.

Our non-Vegetarian friends that went with us to San Francisco had a specific Chinese restaurant in mind, however the restaurant was not going to be Vegetarian, although they assured us that it would offer plenty of Vegetarian dishes. As we walked up to a restaurant with dangling chicken carcasses, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. Luckily for us, (Maybe year of the Good Luck Dragon helped, lol), the place was packed and we moved on.  Yelp led us to a little hole in the wall place, smack in the middle of China Town, called “Lucky Creation”. It was cute and had no animals swinging from the inside, which would have made me barf. As my eyes skimmed the menu, I realized the restaurant was Vegetarian and all the plates were less than $7.00! Can you imagine the joy that enveloped both Lauren and me!? Without giving our friends a chance to contest, we flew inside and grabbed a table in the very back. Behind our table was a beautiful Buddha statue with various offerings. I no longer needed to be skeptical about the establishment being 100% Veggie, knowing that the owners were Buddhist.

OMG. The food was spectacular! Everything was authentic, and I must say when we left we were depressed because we can’t find something akin to Lucky Creation here in LA.   We ordered family style, and started out with the Won Ton Soup and Chinese tea. Lauren (she will be embarrassed that I am revealing this but I think it’s cute), at first was concerned about the floating tealeaves in the tea, but I explained that in Chinese culture, the tea is sipped with the leaves inside. Evidentially by doing so you can better absorb the nutrients and health benefits of the tea. The tea was so toasty and delectable.  Next, we shared some chow mein with some mean mushroom sauce. Often I avoid chow mein because of the fat content, but this dish was exceptionally light. Moving on now to the bean curd. Words cannot describe how heavenly the bean curd was to my taste buds. Ughh…yum. We also ordered some imitation pork that was delightful in addition to an eggplant dish. So next time you are in San Francisco go to China Town and hit up “Lucky Creation”, everything in there is pretty darn lucky.

Enjoy my random pictures relating to the Wella Show and “Lucky Creation”.

Missing San Francisco

*Sigh* Coming back from vacation is always tough–especially from a city as amazing (not too mention accessible for Vegetarians) as San Francisco. Lauren and I went up with friends, and explored the city. Both of us had never been to San Francisco, and were particularly excited about the prospect of trying great vegetarian food. 

All in all, the trip was spectacular, and we had the luxury of finding not one but to two terrific restaurants with great! Getting over the mild feelings of depression that tend to linger after coming back from such a fabulous place will not be easy, but can be done.  It can be done most easily by reminiscing via photos and text about the yummy restaurants we ventured to. Stay tuned!

Vegetarian Encounters at Subway

 Whew! These past few weeks have been busy, and in a good way. 2012 def seems to be off to a great start. Because of my extreme business, I have been eating 25% of meals on the go, and this evening was one of those nights. 

I ventured into Subway starving and ready for my go-to sandwich, a veggie patty on their honey oat bread. I decided to go for a footlong, as I was going to be sharing the sandwich with Lauren.

Well, here is the awesome part of tonight! A very nice young woman, who introduced herself later as Cher, (I hope I am spelling your name correctly if you’re reading!!) was ahead of me, and took notice of my choice to opt for a veggie patty and became inspired to switch out her turkey slices for a vegetarian alternative! She and I began talking about how yummy the vegetarian patty was and she told me she had been a vegetarian for ten years before recently transitioning back to meat. 

I figured what a great opportunity to tell her about the blog!  Cher told me she may consider going back to a vegetarian lifestyle and of course, this made my day and perked up my night.

I hope you’re reading Cher! 

Btw everyone, here is how I do my Subway veggie sub:

Honey Oat Bread

Veggie Patty

Swiss Cheese

^^Toast the above

Now request spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, and avocado. Garnish with oregano, black pepper and a bit of parmasean cheese. For dressings, Lauren and I like a bit of spicy mustard, sweet onion sauce and a dribble of red wine vinegar. 

 

Holiday Dinner Recap

First thing’s first.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Woah, it’s 2012, the purported “last year on earth”. First of all—let’s not live this year dwelling on what likely will not be our “last” year on earth!  We need to be positive, and continue working towards a productive present and future.  And what better way to kick off the new year than to kick those nasty meat eating habits goodbye! Yes–my non-vegetarian friends, I am talking to you! You can do it!! 😉

To all of my subscribers and vegetarian passers-by–here is the long-awaited Christmas dinner post. Our apologies for taking a week to get it together, but hey, the holidays are hectic. What’s great about this particular menu, is that it really can be utilized for any important dinner, especially in the winter months as many of the dishes are quite toasty. =)  So check it out, and enjoy the many pictures that are accompanying the entry. And yes, just like every other entry, these are all original recipes.

*Go-Vegetarianista’s 2011 Holiday Dinner*

H’or D’oeuvres:

Apple Slices, Dried Cranberries w/Almond Flax Butter & Non-Fat Plain Yogurt

Cucumber and Carrot Slices w/ Hummus

Dishes:

Cheesy Baked Casserole

Tofurky Slices Sauteed in Olive Oil & Sage

Sides:

Italian Sparkling Pinot Reduction Orange Cranberries and Green Beans

Mashed Sweet Potatoes w/Nutmeg & Cinnamon

Lemon Zest & Butter Brussel Sprouts

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce

Dessert:

Trader O’s Candy Cane Cookies Served with Chilled Coconut Milk (Can also pick up some coconut, soy, or regular vanilla ice cream)

*How it’s done*

Apple Slices, Dried Cranberries w/Almond Flax Butter & Non-Fat Plain Yogurt–Arrange two sliced apples on a plate with dried cranberries. On the side, scoop two tablespoons almond butter and two tablespoons non-fat plain yogurt. Believe it or not,  the sliced apples are delicious w/a bit of both. You can opt to use soy plain yogurt if you’d prefer.

Cucumber and Carrot Slices w/ Hummus–Self-explanatory, really, there are so many varieties of hummus out there, but I think a more traditional variety is best.

Cheesy Baked Casserole–This is the most epic dish of them all, and requires a LOT of attention. I glanced away from the boiling pot of veggie broth and milk for one second, and the second I did, everything began to overflow! Needless to say, this was a super epic and scrumptious casserole.

CBC Recipe:

What you’ll need:

12 oz whole wheat penne

2 tbsp Earth Balance butter

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup minced sweet onion

2 cups non-fat milk (you can attempt plain soy milk if you are opting to make this vegan)

1 cup low sodium vegetable broth

8 oz shredded low-fat cheddar & mozzarella blend (if you cannot find it mixed together, you can always get a bit of both and shred yourself–and of course for vegans, go for Daiya brand shredded cheddar)

4 cups baby spinach

2 sliced roma tomatoes

2 tsps sea salt

2 tsps black pepper

2 tsps garlic powder

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (Vegans–get Galaxy Vegan Parmesan)

1/4 cup seasoned whole grain bread crumbs (To make your own–which we did–crumble one toasted piece of bread into a small bowl. Add 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp black pepper and a pinch of sea salt, then mix together)

Canola Oil Cooking Spray

Cook pasta in water w/1 tsp salt according to package directions. Meanwhile, spray a baking dish with the canola oil spray. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a moderately large pot, melt butter. Add flour and cook over low heat, stirring with a whisk. Add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes longer. Next, add the milk and veggie broth and continue whisking. Raise the heat to medium until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick. Don’t fret; however, if it appears a bit clumpy because it’s inevitable. Season with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Once the concoction has become thick, remove from heat, add cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust seasonings to taste, add cooked penne, baby spinach, and sliced tomatoes. Pour into baking dish. Top with grated cheese and breadcrumbs. Spray a bit more canola oil spray on top.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes and voila! When the dish has completed baking, turn off the oven and leave the casserole inside the oven to keep warm while you complete your other goodies.

Tofurky Slices Sauteed in Olive Oil & Sage–Lighter and more flavorful, you won’t regret holding onto the extra $5.00 you would’ve used to purchase the traditional Tofurky Loaf.

What you’ll need:

2 packages sliced Tofurky–head to your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin cold pressed olive oil

1 tablespoon minced sage

1/2 cup minced white mushrooms

Coat a large pan/wok with the olive oil. Arrange the Tofurky slices evenly across the pan and sprinkle the mushrooms and sage over the slices. Simmer on medium heat until the slices are golden brown, add a drop or two of extra oil if you find the slices get too dry, or if you don’t want the extra fat, turn off the heat and spray a bit with canola oil spray and then turn back on the heat. This dish takes about five minutes to cook and you’re good to go!

Italian Sparkling Pinot Reduction Orange Cranberries and Green Beans–Ummm..yum!! Who doesn’t like to get a little tipsy off their vegetables? 😉

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup Italian Sparkling White Wine (Pinot is preferable)

2 cups green beans

1 tablespoon Earth Balance

1/4  cup dried cranberries (We purchased dried orange cranberries from Trader Joe’s)

1/2 cup water

In a medium sized pot, bring all ingredients to a boil, once boiling reduce to low/medium and simmer.  This elegant side takes about 8 minutes to cook.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes w/Nutmeg & Cinnamon–Mmm…this one is divinely toasty!

What you’ll need

3 peeled sweet potatoes

1 tsp Nutmeg

1 tsp Cinnamon

1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

Bring sweet potatoes to a boil. (You may want to get started on this one early on, as the potatoes take about 30 minutes to become soft). Once the potatoes are soft, place them in a medium pot with the other ingredients, cook for about five minutes. Once done, drizzle with the olive oil and a pinch of extra cinnamon.

Lemon Zest & Butter Brussel Sprouts–Healthy and Tangy, these brussels are a great addition to any large holiday meal.

What you’ll need:

1 cup water

3 cups brussel sprouts

1/8 cup lemon zest (take a lemon, cut in half and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup)

1 tsp sea salt

1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter

In a medium pot, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat heat medium/low and simmer for about seven minutes.

Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce–Duh! You can’t forget the cranberry sauce! We took it easy with the cranberry sauce, we purchased whole berry cranberry sauce at Trader Joe’s.

What you’ll need

1 can whole berry/jellied cranberry sauce

Heat the cranberry sauce in a small pot on low heat for about 3-5 minutes. 🙂

Trader O’s Candy Cane Cookies Served with Chilled Coconut Milk (Can also pick up some coconut, soy, or regular vanilla ice cream)–Very obviously fantastic. Trader O’s are Trader Joe’s brand Oreo Cookies basically..and they are wayyy better!

There you have it, the most epic Vegetarian holiday dinner menu yet–fit for a multitude of occasions. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetarians Unite!

During the holiday season, we vegetarians often have to deal with a series of questions, most containing the never before heard query “How can you survive Christmas dinner w/o meat??”. Well for their information, I survived just fine, and my non-vegetarian guest was more than satisfied. (You’ll be seeing my holiday entry complete with photos, recipes, and more in the next day or two–there’s a lot of foodage to put together!). What I’m getting at is, what’s with the negativity and false assumptions? Lauren, my co-author of the blog, has lately been inundated with questions regarding how she consumes adequate protein, nutrients, vitamins, the whole nine yards. After awhile, even for someone as strong-willed and secure as herself, it becomes overwhelming! And being human, we may even for a second think “What if they’re right???”

What we vegetarians, and all people for that matter need to be is more educated on food values and nutrition as a whole. Maybe if we took a moment to compare and contrast the nutritional content of beef hamburger with say, a lentil burger or a meal comprised of tofu and veggies, we’d realize the number of benefits a card carrying vegetarian has!

I want to get more into this issue later in a future entry, wherein I will display nutritional content of various food items, some meat, and some meat-free, to further substantiate our vegetarian cause.

In the meantime, check out this nifty site and get the facts on basically any food:

http://nutritiondata.self.com/

Holiday Grocery Shopping Complete

Yay! I successfully battled the neurotic, angry, and overly jovial shoppers at Trader Joe’s this evening and ended up with a cart of yumminess! To think I was considering doing grocery shopping tomorrow on Xmas Eve is pretty maddening…I must have been going through a hunger fog.

Anyhow, here’s a preview of what’s to come for Christmas dinner!! 

baked mac and cheese with spinach and tomato (mayyyybeeee yellow squash too….k I know it’s turning into a casserole, lol)

tofurky slices basted in olive oil and sage

green beans sauted in white wine w/mushrooms and cranberries

brussel sprouts

saladdddd (not sure what type yet, probably something basic)

I know there’s more but at the moment I’m kinda headachy so the rest will be a surprise, haha.

 

=)

Fresh Red Lentil & Sweet Potato Salad

The last time I went shopping, instead of simply picking up the basic bag of green lentils, I decided to open new doors and try red lentils. While not quite as nutritious as green lentils, (red lentils contain less protein and fiber than their green cousin), they have a pleasant, almost airy taste and work great in salads. I decided to make a tasty salad complete with sprouts, cucumbers, mushrooms and goddess dressing. What made this salad particularly unique was my decision to throw in sliced cooked sweet potato. I had a leftover half of sweet potato from the night before and I decided that would be a good extra kick. By topping the salad with Goddess dressing, I was in taste bud heaven.  Goddess dressing is a dressing made with tahini, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. I picked some up from the grocery store, you can find a great Goddess at Trader Joe’s.

This salad is great to eat for a pick-me-up, as it is super nutrient packed and will give you an energy boost.

Bon apetit!

*What you’ll need*

1 1/2 cups spinach leaves or mesculan greens

1/4 sliced cucumber

1/4 cup sliced crimini mushrooms (or any variety really)

1/4 cup – 1/2 cup cooked red lentils (cook the night before and only for 20 minutes or until only slightly tender)

1/2 medium cooked sweet potato sliced (is actually quite good slightly warmed, but not necessary)

1/2 cup sprouts

2 tablespoons Goddess dressing

Put everything together and there you go! Feel free to go crazy and add extra veggies or even add additional beans. =)

Lentil Burger Madness

A long ten hour day at the office, a vigorous jog,  hot shower and stress reducing at-home facial later, I am sitting down on my carpet with a very sedating cup of herbal tea to blog about my amazing lentil burgers. For the record, I am drinking a ginger herbal tea with peppermint and chamomile from Fresh & Easy—super relaxing and tasty! Anyhow, on to the matter at hand. The other night, I felt inspired to re-create one of my favorite types of veggie burgers-the lentil burger. I love the lentil burger over a conventional veggie patty for several reasons. The number one reason being, it is soy-free. Sometimes, as vegetarians (and vegans) it’s easy for us to get caught up in a soy frenzy, but there really are so many more options available to us! My number two reason for loving this filling veggie burger, is that it tastes great (when made correctly). Number three is it keeps me full for hours! On to addressing the negative aspects of restaurant veggie patties–they almost always fall apart! This is likely due to the patties not containing an ingredient that will allow for a solid consistency.

To prevent a “loose” patty, I used brown rice flour to more or less pack the patties together. As you’ll see in the instructions below, these patties are quite easy to make, and extremely delicious. I was impressed how well they kept their shape; but of course, we can’t all be so skilled..muahaha! I ate my lentil patty without a bun, (only because this was such an impromptu recipe, and I had none in the house), but the patties would do well in a sprouted burger bun. Spread some Veganese on the buns and top the burgers with tomatoes, pickles, and ketchup! They also can be enjoyed with melted cheese, Vegan or non-Vegan.

Lentil Burger Patties:

*What you’ll need*

2 cups cooked lentils

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

1/2-1 cup brown rice flour

1 tablespoon Braggs Nutritional Yeast Flakes

2 tablespoons curry powder

3 tablespoons ketchup (Look for organic so as to avoid consuming high fructose corn syrup!)

1 tablespoon Vegan butter (Earth Balance, preferably)

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2-4 tablespoons butter or olive oil to fry the patties (I use Earth Balance)

*How to do it*

Combine all ingredients except for the brown rice flour in a large mixing bowl. Make sure the lentils are slightly overcooked so they can be easily molded and mashed into patties. Blend all ingredients together, making sure everything has been mixed together.

Put 1/2 cup brown rice flour onto a large plate.

Place clean hands (obviously clean from the very beginning!), into the mixing bowl, and scoop out a little more than a handful of the lentil mix. Roll together in your hands into a ball and flatten out into a burger patty shape. The mix should yield at least five patties. Lay your patties, one by one, onto the brown rice flour, coating each side. You may need to add additional flour to your plate. If you notice your molded patty begin to fall apart after saturating it in the flour, with flour on the patty, re-mold into the patty shape. (This will likely happen!)

After your first patty has been molded, venture over to your stove so you can melt two tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Melt on medium heat and once melted. place two molded patties on the skillet, (if skillet is large enough, of course). Re-mold with your spatula if you notice the patties once again begin to fall apart. Don’t despair, the first couple patties may be flops (literally). As you become used to this molding, transferring, and frying process, you’ll soon be a veggie burger master! Flip your patties after 45 seconds to brown the other side. The patties need only a good two minutes of cooking time; pay attention to the moistness of your skillet, you may need to periodically add a bit more butter.

When your patties are done, they should be slightly golden brown on the tops. (Ugh, I am becoming hungry writing this recipe!! Grrr.)

Your lentil burgers can be eaten bunless, like I did, or in a bun with the fixings of your choice. I earlier recommended Veganese, pickles, and tomatoes, but you can add whatever pleases your palate.

All in all, I promise this creation will be tastetastic!

xo,

Nadya

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