Nov 21, 2014

Easy Raw Vegan Dessert

I've been wanting to make my own version of a breakfast bar because my boyfriend goes through them like crazy and they are not cheap. I was going to go all out with oats and granola but I just wanted something really quick and I didn't want to cook it, so I came up with these delights.

As usual, I don't take measurements. But I will try to give approximate quantities. It's easy enough to adjust as you go. 

I use my food processor for this. I don't know what I would use without it. Maybe a blender, chopper or immersion blender would work.


1 cup chopped dates. I used Bob's Red Mill date pieces, but because they are dry, I soak them for a bit in a little warm water to soften them up.

1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, or nut of your choice

1/2 cup shredded coconut

3 tbs cacao (optional)

I process the dates first so the chunks are smaller and then add all the rest of the ingredients. Blend until fairly smooth. The nuts will turn into a nut butter if blended enough which adds a creamy texture.

Spread evenly on a plate. Top with more shredded coconut or nuts (optional). Refrigerate until more solid.  I topped mine with So Delicious Cocowhip. It was divine.

These would also be nice rolled into little bite sized balls and rolled in coconut as well.

That's it, pretty simple. No added sugar. And a small amount is surprisingly satisfying.

Jul 18, 2013

Salem Farmer's Market Finds

I got a great haul at the farmer's market today. I intended to just pick up a few things for a side salad, but ended up with so much more. And I only spent a total of $19.

What you see here is 2 bunches of green kale, tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 1 green pepper, 1 pepperoncini, and blueberries, all organic, from Heavens Harvest Farm. I also picked up 2 loaves of bread- kalamata olive and ciabetta, from Pain D'Avignon.

I made a simple salad with 1 cucumber, tomatoes and both peppers. I added some black cured olives. It was tossed with some olive oil, salt and pepper and served with some of the olive bread.


Next I have to get busy cooking all that kale. At least one bunch is going to be made into kale chips. Yum!

Anyone have any good kale recipes? I usually just steam or saute with garlic and add some lemon juice and salt, but am interested in other ways to enjoy it.

Nov 16, 2012

The Best Vegan Sausage Ever!

Field Roast Sausage Links
I searched for a long time for a meatless sausage replacement and really did not like most of the types I tried. Perhaps it is because I was never a big fan of sausage to begin with, despite my father being a sausage maker. Then I found Smoked Apple Sage Sausage Links from Field Roast. They are simply amazing. And, they are not only vegan, but soy free. The ingredients are made with wheat gluten, vegetables and spices. My meat eating friends love them, they are delicious alone, in a roll, sliced and added to pasta dishes.

I have tried the other two flavors, Italian and Mexican Chipotle, but the Apple Sage is still my favorite. Apparently other people agree, as that flavor is typically the first to sell out at Whole Foods. They aren't cheap, but filling and totally worth the price.  According to Field Roast's website, Whole Foods in Swampscott is the only place you can purchase them on the North Shore.

To prepare the sausage, I cook them in a frying pan with light safflower or canola oil. Sometimes I leave them whole, but if I'm in a hurry, I butterfly them so the center cooks faster. One of my friends served them sliced in rounds as appetizers at a party and they were gone in minutes.

Nov 7, 2012

Vegetarian in Salem MA

I moved to Salem earlier this year and I am thrilled with the vegetarian friendly restaurants available to me here. And with the opening of Life Alive, a 100% vegetarian restaurant, my dining options are complete. Here is a breakdown of my favorite veg friendly eating establishments in Salem...

Life Alive- Mostly vegan, organic, and holistically focused. The menu is warming and healing, plus there is finally a place to get juices and smoothies in town. Front Street does offer some juices, but they are limited.

Passage to India- there are always vegetarian options at Indian restaurants.  My favorite dish here is the Palak Paneer. But the Dal Maharani is so tasty, as well as the Vegetable Masala. Mulligatawny soup is vegetarian and the best I've tasted.

Howling Wolf Taqueria - Finally a really good, affordable Mexican restaurant. The guacamole tacos are great, as is the burritos and nachos. Highly recommended for $2 Tuesday Taco night.

The Old Spot- Yes, this is an Irish pub, but they have a super tasty black bean burger that I crave all the time.

Gulu-Gulu Cafe- Great drink selection and entertainment. Many vegetarian options to choose from.

Kushco Bistro- many vegetarian and vegan sandwich options

Thai Place Restaurant- weird location in the almost barren Salem Mall, but the staff is so friendly and appreciative. Only problem with Thai food in general is the possible addition of fish flavoring. It's a little harder with the language barrier, but the vegetarian food I get there is always tasty.

Salem Beer Works- Most of their menu is typical American bar food, with lots of meat, but their fried pickles and nachos are quite good, despite being really bad for you.

62 Restaurant & Wine Bar - Upscale Modern Italian with plenty of vegetarian small plates to try. Some of my current favorites are the Arancini, Chickpea Fritters, and Beet Salad. They always offer a vegetarian pasta dish as well.

Damatas Pizza - I recently discovered this place and have to say their pizza is cheap and really delicious. If you are a cheese eating vegetarian I highly recommend this place.

Hong Kong King -  For the occasional Chinese food cravings I get, this place always satisfies. I know its not the best food for you, and despite its sketchy looks, the food is actually pretty decent. I typically get the spring rolls and vegetable fried rice. I only tried it because of the high Yelp ratings and they did not disappoint.

There is one place I haven't tried yet that looks promising- Okea Grill and Sushi. I hear great things and they have many vegetable rolls on the menu, but I have not been able to get over there. If you've tried it, let me know what you think.

Happy Dining!

Jan 24, 2011

Vegetarian Swedish Meal Time

If you haven't seen any of Swedish Meal Time's videos, you should check them out on youtube asap. Hilarious. But, the meals include meat. Lots of it. Despite that, I still got really hungry after watching the Spaghetti Explosion video. So I decided to make my own vegetarian version in response.

  • pasta- preferably spaghetti, but I didn't have any so I used orecchiette.
  • vegetarian ground sausage - I like Gimme Lean brand
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped (I used tomato paste because I also didn't have any tomatoes)
  • olive oil
  • safflower, sunflower, or other high heat oil
  • milk (I was tempted to use soy milk, but I just decided it wouldn't taste right) I also used a little heavy whipping cream because I thought I should fatten the recipe up just a little.
  • salt/pepper
  • dried basil
  • garlic salt
  • sugar
**Forgive me. Once again I don't have exact measurements. I just add ingredients until it seems right.

To Make:
  • Add olive oil and salt to water. Boil. Add pasta and cook according to box instructions.
  • Heat safflower oil in frying pan.
  • Add vegetarian sausage, garlic salt, basil and pepper to taste. 
  • Add onion and tomato or tomato paste.
  • I added sugar since they use ketchup in the video so I thought it could use a sweetener. I really don't like ketchup so I skipped that. Otherwise, add ketchup.
  • Cook until brown.
  • Pour a good amount of milk/cream over sausage mixture and stir until combined. 
  • I should have added more milk to make it more saucy.
  • Cook until milk is heated and well combined. 
  • Serve sausage over pasta.
Smaklig MÃ¥ltid
The beer I enjoyed with dinner is Saint Botolph's Town from Pretty Things, based in Somerville MA. Oh, and that's June peeping in the background. Isn't she pretty?

Nov 15, 2010

Common Mistakes of a New Vegetarian

I was 16 when I decided to become a vegetarian. With 2010 being my twentieth meat free year, I have mistakenly eaten quite a few meals that contain meat products, especially in the first few years. While most of these mistakes may seem like common sense in hindsight, I was very naive about food production when I started out.

Here is my top 10 list of mistakes in no particular order:

  1. Soup- Just because you order a vegetable soup, does not mean it is vegetarian. Most soup is made with a chicken or beef stock. I was in love with Friday's broccoli-cheddar soup and ordered it every time I went. Then I found out that it was made with chicken stock. I felt kind of dumb at first, but I was just starting out cooking. I don't even think I ever made my own soup or really thought about how it was made. Since then, I find that most restaurants use a meat-based stock by default, which is always so disappointing.
  2. Beef Fat - So Twinkies are my second mistake (for many reasons!). Many snack food items, including most of the Hostess brand from what I can tell, are made with beef fat. Apparently its much cheaper than butter. Always check your labels.
  3. Cheese- Many cheeses contain rennet. What the heck is rennet, you ask? Rennet is a natural enzyme used to coagulate milk, which is ideal for making cheese. The problem is where rennet comes from- the stomach lining of mammals, mainly baby cows. So even though you may think veal is the most evil of all meats, many cheeses that you eat are made using the byproduct of the veal industry. I suspect most vegetarians are probably guilty of this oversight, including me. I'll admit, I'm weak. And maybe I'll lose some credibility saying this, but up until now, I've been reluctant to really look into the ingredients in my cheese. I'm Italian and most of the best cheese in the world is made with rennet. How can I live without the occasional Parmesan and buffalo mozzarella? After researching the details of rennet production just now, I can honestly say that I'm going to make a serious effort to eliminate rennet-based cheese from my diet. Now, there is good news for you fellow cheese lovers. There are several non-calf rennets available: vegetable rennet made from plants, microbial rennet made from molds, and even genetically modified rennet, although some GM rennet may still be derived from animal genes.
  4. Gelatin - Gelatin is made from the collagen inside animals' skin and bones. You can find gelatin in Jello, many gummy candy products, and in marshmallows. Gelatin is a binding ingredient. So that chewy candy you love so much may very well be made with gelatin. Oh, and my friend and I realized the low fat cookies she loved so much contained gelatin. Go figure. By the way, the emulsion on photographic film also contains gelatin.  :(
  5. Lard - Lard is a pig fat used in cooking many foods, such as in tortillas, to fry foods, in traditional refried beans, to make flaky crusts, etc. If you eat out, its hard to tell if the food is cooked with lard. If I eat at a Mexican restaurant I try to ask about the tortillas and beans. McDonalds and other fast food restaurants used to use lard to fry the french fries. Supposedly they don't anymore, but I don't take any chances. In my opinion, nothing good can come from eating fast food, especially places with cheap hamburgers as the primary option.
  6. Rice - A lot of traditional rice is made with some kind of stock, probably meat based. I can't even count how many times I've eaten rice at a Mexican  restaurant that contained some kind of animal stock. Always ask about the rice, even if its in a "vegetarian" burrito. Seriously. 
  7. Fish in Asian food - Traditional miso soup contains fish. The dashi, or soup stock may contain niboshi (dried baby sardines) and katsuobushi (thin shavings of dried and smoked bonito). If you ask if there is fish, the server may say no. I typically ask if the soup contains bonito and they understand. Also, I once purchased a premade seaweed salad at a grocery store and realized it contained fish. So now I ask about seaweed salad. Many sauces used in Thai and other Asian food contain fish. Very often Thai curry has a fish flavor in it. And when ordering vegetable sushi, make sure your selection isn't topped with fish eggs.
  8. Carmine/Cochineal - This is the red color pigment obtained from small insects such as the South American cochineal. Yum! It is also called Crimson Lake, Cochineal, Natural Red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120. If your candy, juice, ice cream, yogurt, etc is red or pink, check the label. Due to concerns over allergic reactions, the FDA has recently passed a regulation requiring carmine and cochineal to be listed by name on the label, effective January 5, 2011.
  9. Isinglass - This is my most recent horrific discovery. Isinglass is a type of collagen used in some wine and beer production. And guess where isinglass is derived from? The swim bladder of fish. Supposedly very little isinglass remains in the beer that you drink, so I guess whether you care or not depends on your level of vegetarianism. Keep in mind this is mostly in cask-conditioned beers, such as Guinness (why!!!). I found this out shortly before my honeymoon to Ireland. I still had to have a few Guinness there, all the while trying pretend I had never heard about isinglass.  But, fear not. There is a fantastic website called They contact every brewery you can imagine and find out if their line is vegan friendly, then post the results. It's a brilliant site.
  10. Look before you eat - OK, you would think after 20 years I wouldn't be mistakenly biting into chicken, beef or fish, but it happens. A lot. Like I order a bean burrito and end up with beef. Most recently I ordered scallion pancakes at a Korean restaurant without realizing the the regular scallion pancakes contained fish. I should have specified the vegetable scallion pancakes. After two bites and wondering why a scallion was extremely chewy, I finally realized it tasted like fish. Yeah, I managed to eat octopus. Yippie. At least now I can say I tried octopus. So, lesson learned is, no matter how hungry you are, always take a moment to look and smell your food before digging in.  And try to be really clear that you are a vegetarian up front before you order.

How do you avoid these mistakes? Always read food labels. Don't just assume that the package of low-fat cookies you want are vegetarian because cookies don't typically contain meat products. And when eating out, ask, ask, ask. Yes, sometimes I feel like the server hates me because I ask so many questions, but it's important to me. My first question is typically "Is this dish vegetarian." Then, I ask about specifics- animal stock, fish flavor, lard, etc if I suspect the dish might contain them.  Even today with so much more vegetarian awareness, there are still people who think just the absence of visible meat makes it vegetarian. And be especially careful in ethnic restaurants, where the cultural and language barriers make it difficult to be certain about what you are eating.

Remember, all vegetarians make mistakes and eat animal products at some point. It really is unavoidable unless you always cook your own food and never buy anything processed. The most important thing I've learned over the years is to go easy on myself. It's a lifelong learning process. And I try to maintain a sense of humor when mistakes do happen.  Eating meat goes against everything I believe in, but it's not going to kill me.

Nov 7, 2010

Super Sweet & Healthy Mochi Dessert

I came up with this recipe when I wasn't eating sugar, flour or dairy. I felt great and had so much energy, but I still craved a sweet dessert once and a while. I got creative in the kitchen and the result was so delicious. It reminds me of jelly donuts, but without the added sweetener, flour or dairy.

The ingredients:
Mejoul Dates
Shredded Coconut

Cut the Mochi in 1.5" squares, then bake in a pre-heated 450° F oven for 8-10 minutes. While the Mochi is cooking, mash the strawberries, dates and shredded coconut together.  When the Mochi is done, remove from oven and top with the fruit mixture. Enjoy!

*Mochi is a traditional Asian snack, made of rice. It is wheat-free, gluten-free and dairy free. When baked, the Mochi puffs up and is chewy on the inside yet crunchy on the outside. I use Grainaissance brand Mochi, which I purchase at Whole Foods.

Photo Credit:

Apr 18, 2010

Great Vegetarian Cookbook Resourse

I just discovered a blog all about vegetarian cookbooks,, that you may want to check out. This is a great resource and I've already added to my wishlist of cookbooks. Now I just need to find a bigger shelf to fit my books! The blog reminded me that still need to get How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, by Mark Bittman. I have the original How to Cook Everything, which I love for its practical advice on storage and use. It is probably the most referenced cookbook in my kitchen.

Apr 11, 2010

Whole Food Breakfast Burritos

I just started my 1-2 month whole food diet in the hopes of increasing my metabolism and energy and also maybe losing some of the extra pounds I gained this past year. This means I will not be eating any flour, sugar, dairy, caffeine or alcohol. Yikes! No bread, cheese, wine, or coffee. It's definitely going to be hard, but with the help of my good friend Kelly, who is a Nutritional Health Counselor, I know I can do it.

For this coming work week, we came up with the idea to make breakfast burritos because I love me a good burrito. But these burritos can't be made with bread or dairy. They will contain the following:

brown rice
black beans
mashed avocado, mixed with lemon juice, flax oil and herbs
shredded carrots
shredded daikon

I will assemble and wrap all of the ingredients in a large piece of romaine lettuce. The best part of this meal is that I made all of the rice and beans for the week ahead of time. This is especially important because I hate to wake up early and the less time I need in the morning, the better. I was also able to mash several avocados ahead of time. Kelly says if I mix lemon juice with the avocado it won't brown. I can't wait to try these tomorrow morning.

If you are interested in nutritional counseling, feel free to contact Kelly at

Dec 5, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Feast Part I - Tofu Turkey and all the fixings

I have been making Tofu Turkey every Thanksgiving since 2001. This is not to be mistaken for the store bought Tofurky, which in my opinion is not as tasty. This is a "mash up 5 pounds of tofu, press in fridge for 8 hours, stuff, baste and bake for 4 hours" production. Its a lot of work, but I love every minute of this yearly tradition. And the results are well worth it.

This year, Jim and I were in England for Thanksgiving. He had an opportunity to present at a conference on Thanksgiving day and we jumped at the chance to visit another new country. We decided we could have a post-Thanksgiving feast when we returned. So, here I am, surrounded by pounds of tofu and vegetables and slightly stressing about all the details for my meal tomorrow, but happy all the same. After all, its only once a year, and its so much fun to prove that you can have a fantastic, tasty and amazing holiday feast without all the meat.

On the schedule today:
  • prepare the tofu
  • make cranberry/orange chutney
  • make creamy spinach/parsnip dish
  • double layer pumpkin cheesecake
  • make carrot ginger soup if there's enough room in the fridge to store :)
Check back soon for photos and details of the process.