Saturday, August 16, 2014

KIND Peach Crumble

B and I have been huge fans of the KIND products since they first started making their delicious bars and snacks. They are the perfect healthy snack to throw in my purse when I have a long day at school and the fact that they are made with pure ingredients and no additives makes them even better.

So we were ecstatic when they offered to send us some products to sample and bake with. As always, we only agreed to write about the products if we actually liked them but in this case, it was no problem! We fell in love with the products they sent, in particular, the new line of Strong & Kind, savory snack line. These bars feature 10 grams of soy and whey free protein and are absolutely delicious. My favorites are the Roasted Jalapeño and Thai Sweet Chili flavors. KIND uses whole almonds, seeds and pea protein which provide all nine essential amino acids. For more information about their yummy snacks visit 

We were also sent two bags of KIND Healthy Grains Clusters: Cinnamon Oat Clusters and Raspberry Clusters with Chia Seeds. Both absolutely delicious. So good that B and I had a hard time not eating them all before making a recipe with them! They are made with 100% whole grains including gluten free oats, millet, quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat. Each 50g serving provides more than 1 full serving of whole grains.  We thought about what we wanted to make with them and decided on a peach crumble using gorgeous fresh, organic Turkish peaches as we are spending the summer in Istanbul. The crumble was a huge hit and we served it with homemade coconut cream. Our friends had seconds and thirds. We will definitely be making it again soon we just wish we could find their products here in Istanbul! Guess we'll have to stock up next time we're in the States. 

The exact recipe will be coming soon. 

Thank you so much to Kristi and the KIND team for sending us their delicious samples!

Meanwhile, if you are in Istanbul, be sure to stop by Bi Nevi Karakoy as my sister recently became partner and has started cooking her plant-based dishes there. Let us know what you think! 

Instagram: @BEBinthekitch
Twitter: @bebinthekitch

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Isa's Just Chocolate Cake

One of our close family friends requested the recipe for this vegan chocolate cake, which I had made for B's birthday last month. It was delicious and came together in a pinch. It was so good that I ended up making it twice within a few days for some other family members that were visiting. It took about 10 minutes to make and only 15 to bake as I halved the recipe. 

It is from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's book 'Isa Does It', which we are huge fans of and have been cooking from regularly. We love that she doesn't use so many artificial meat substitutes in her recipes and that most are easy to make. 

It was delicious. 

Here's the recipe:

Isa's 'Just Chocolate Cake with Gooey Ganache' 
1 cup almond milk (or your favorite non-dairy milk)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

For the ganache:
2/3 cup almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips 
3 tbsp pure maple syrup 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan (we used a loaf tin as that's what we had handy and lined it with parchment)

Whisk together the milk and vinegar and set aside for a few minutes. Then add sugar, oil, vanilla and mix well. 

In another bowl sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix until just combined (don't over mix or cake will be tough). 

Pour batter into pan and bake for 32 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

Place on cooling rack before icing. 

For the ganache:
Combine ingredients in a pan, let simmer for a few minutes until well combined. Mix while doing so. And let cool before using. 

We cut the cake in two lengthwise and iced the middle as well before covering with sprinkles. 


Friday, March 7, 2014

Dirt Candy's Carrot Risotto

Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a workshop led by Dirt Candy's owner and chef, Amanda Cohen. Dirt Candy is a 'vegetable' restaurant in NYU known for making delicious veggie dishes. The main thing that separates them from other vegetarian restaurants in the city is that they don't try to mimic meat dishes with faux veggie products. Rather they are all about making beautiful vegetable dishes that highlight the natural flavors and beauty of veggies. Amanda explained to us that they don't want someone to eat a dish and wonder what they were eating. They enjoy playing with textures and flavors to create unique dishes. For example their carrot risotto is one of their most popular dishes. The dish uses carrots in the broth for the risotto, as well as carrot dumplings (made similar to how gnocchi is made but with carrots instead of potatoes). 

We made a few dishes yesterday including carrot risotto, spinach and beet risottos as well. Chef Cohen came around and gave us tips on our techniques and provided feedback as we worked. It was really an invaluable experience and one of the most fun things I've done at NYU since I started the program. 

I haven't been able to visit Dirt Candy yet as it's always booked months in advance but I can't wait to get there one day. They are expanding into a much larger space so hopefully I can dine there soon. 

A few of you asked for the recipe on our Instagram, BEBinthekitch. The closest recipe I found to the original is here. Enjoy and let us know what you think! 

E + B 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Vegan Karniyarik with Beyond Meat's Beef-Free Crumbles

Yesterday I saw an announcement on Beyond Meat's Facebook page announcing a contest called "fanfoodphoto". All you had to do to enter was take a picture of a dish you made using Beyond Meat and use the aforementioned hashtag. The winner with the highest number of votes will receive 1 year's supply of Beyond Meat. If you want to see all the photos and maybe even put in a vote for my dish, here's the link . This contest served as inspiration for me to re-create a Turkish classic, "Karniyarik", that is a favorite in Casa BEB. 

Vegan Karniyarik with Beef-less Stuffing

Now, if you haven't heard of Beyond Meat, you are in the majority. Beyond Meat is a company dedicated to creating plant-based meat alternatives that have similar texture and taste to real meat. They launched their Chicken-less strips last Spring and just this past month they launched their Beef-free crumbles. I eat a vegan diet for the animals, for the environment and for my health and well-being. As a result I take pains to read the labels of each and every product that I put into my body. It is for this reason that I don't tend to eat vegan cheeses, meats, or sweets...they can be chock full of bad oils that cause inflammation, tons of sugar, and weird chemicals. I'm not the resident nutritionist--E is, but in my opinion Beyond Meat is the one of the healthiest meat substitutes out there today. 

So now that you know what Beyond Meat is, here is how I used it. In the past I have made versions of Karniyarik with TVP, tempeh, and just this past week my dad tried a version with Black Beans. NB: TVP is something I never use anymore because I can't find soy TVP that is non-gmo and not highly processed. The black bean version turned out ok...but it probably wouldn't sit well with traditionalists. 

Eggplant arrived in Turkey from the New World when the Ottomans were ruling. The nightshade plant soon became a favorite of the Sultans, and I imagine this is part of the reason why we have so many amazing eggplant dishes in Turkish cooking. The chefs probably wanted to please the pants off of the Sultans and imagined zillions of ways to prepare eggplant. If you don't like eggplant, don't knock it until you've tried it prepared a la turca. You may be very surprised you begin to love something you used to avoid. Karniyarik literally translates to "it's stomach is split". The eggplant is typically fried, but I find preparing it as detailed below is just as good and twice as healthy for you! 


6 small, smooth and shiny eggplants
1 can BPA-free diced tomatoes, i.e. Muir Glen Organic
1 green pepper such as bell pepper, diced about the same size as the onion. small. 
1 yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup Organic Canola Oil
1 packet Beyond Meat Beef-free crumbles in Feisty flavor, note the Beefy flavor does not complement this recipe due to the spices. (much better for Italian dishes i'd say :))
1 bunch Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped without stems
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Aleppo pepper flakes
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste mixed into 1.5 cups of water
1 medium organic tomato, deseeded and cut into wedges. Deseed to lay flat for decorating later on.
1 long green pepper deseeded and sliced vertically for decorating purposes.


1. Heat the oven to 350F.  First peel of 3 slices of the skin, then turn eggplant a bit and slice off a a strip of skin again, then turn eggplant and slice off a strip of skin. The eggplant should look black-white-black-white, etc. Then, stick a pairing knife into the eggplant so that it goes all the way through the other side and slice vertically towards the bottom of the eggplant. Stop about 1 inch before the bottom. Turn the eggplant 90 degrees and do the same from about 1/2 inch under the stem down to 1 inch above the bottom. This is done to make sure that the eggplants cook well and evenly. 

2. Take the canola oil and rub each eggplant with oil. Then sprinkle some salt on the eggplants. Put the eggplants in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes. We want to bake the eggplants so that they are cooked through but not dehydrated. 30 minutes should do the trick. 

3. Put the onion and the olive oil in a big pan and start to sweat the onions. I usually use vegetable stock to sauté onions, but the flavor of this dish will be less decadent in that case. My dad asked me to use the oil, so I this time I did. Cook the onions until they are translucent but make sure they don't start to brown. Then add in the Beyond Meat. You can add it frozen or defrost and the throw it in, either way it cooks pretty quickly. Then add in the green pepper, tomatoes, parsley, 4 cloves of garlic, and the spices. Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes. 

4. Place the eggplants in a Pyrex or similar. Fill each eggplant with the stuffing using a spoon. You can push out the sides of the eggplants to fill in more filling. Just make sure the eggplant doesn't separate completely from the base if possible. My dad taught me to really overstuff the eggplants. 

5. Put one strip of green pepper and one strip of tomato like an X on each eggplant. 

6. Pour about 1.5-2 cups of the tomato paste liquid over the eggplants into the pan. 

7. Bake the eggplants for about 30-40 minutes. 

8. Serve with rice and a Shepherd's salad if you wish to have a fully Turkish meal. 

Afiyet Olsun! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Plant-Powered Dining Guide to Istanbul

By: Belkis E. Boyacigiller

Let’s start off by saying it’s easy eating green in Istanbul. Not that every menu has a vegan or vegetarian option readily available, but if you know what’s commonly available at certain establishments you’ll usually be able to find something to stuff your stomach or at the very least stave off hunger for a few hours. 

This first installment focuses on typical Istanbul dining experiences you may come across during your time here. The second installment features some of our favorite restaurants. The third installment features our favorite snacks. Please leave any feedback or additional suggestions you may have in the comments section.

Fish in Istanbul is as much a cultural experience as it is a culinary one. When Turks go to a “Balikci” they typically do it over a few hours, enjoying tapas like cold & warm dishes first, then just plain fish fried if small, grilled if large, then if you still have room fresh fruit or dessert. The one constant is the translucent anise flavored liquor, Raki, which is sipped throughout the meal (and is perfectly vegetarian)! 

Here are some options you may typically encounter in a Fish Restaurant in Istanbul:  

Cold Mezes: On a tray loaded with tiny dishes or a refrigerated display case you will find most, if not all, of the cold appetizers available. Ask to see the dishes prior to placing your order as offerings will change depending on the season. 

Photo Courtesy of @YCARDTR on Instagram at Cunda Balik, Bostanci

Beyaz Peynir: Triangular tranche of Feta Cheese
Kavun: Slice of Honeydew melon
Patlican Salatasi: Smoked Aubergine with garlic and olive oil; the Turkish version of Baba Ghanoush.
Fava: Thick broad bean spread typically topped with minced red onion and dill weed.
Pilaki: Canellini Beans served in a cold olive-oil based tomato sauce
Semizotu: Garlic yogurt with Purslane or lamb’s lettuce, a green typically called Mâche in France. It’s worth a try to see if your waiter can serve it just with lemon and olive oil if you are. 
Deniz Borulcesi: This dish literally translates to sea beans but is more commonly referred to as marsh samphire or glasswort. These delicate green vegetables are boiled then drizzled with olive oil, garlic and lemon. 
Kabak Cicegi Dolmasi: Zucchini blossoms stuffed with spiced white rice, currants and pine nuts. 
Kozlenmis Kirmizi Biber: Roasted Red pepper with Garlic 
Cibez Otu: Aegean green covered with olive oil and garlic, typical of Ayvalik. 

Hot Mezes: 
There are some vegetarian options in this category, but sadly no vegan options I can think of that are commonly found. 
Sigara Boregi: Phyllo dough stuffed with feta cheese, rolled into a cigar shape and then fried immediately before serving. 

Tomato Salad @Sur Balik Photo cropped via @NerdeYesek
Coban Salatasi: This is similar to a greek salad but the ingredients (cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, long green peppers) are diced much smaller than in a typical greek salad. Also, the Turkish version does not have feta cheese in it—a plus for vegan eaters. 
Domates Salatasi: A tomato salad that you must order if you are in Turkey in the tomato months of mid-June through mid-September as the tomatoes are juicy and fragrant at this time of year and so this salad shines. The sliced tomatoes are marinated in a soy sauce and then served with copious amounts of sliced red onion and olive oil. 
Bahce/Mevsim Salatasi: Garden/seasonal salad at fish and meat restaurants typically consists of pickled red cabbage, cucumbers, canned corn kernels (most likely not gmo-free) and shaved carrots served on a bed of green lettuce and arugula. Not the most Turkish experience you are going to get, but vegan nonetheless. 
Roka Domates: Arugula and tomato salad all chopped up. If you love bitter arugula with a guaranteed bite then you must enjoy arugula when you are in Turkey, it’s the best! Enjoy with lemon, olive oil and a bit of “Nar Eksisi”, sour pomegranate syrup, on top!
Yem Yesil Salata: Literally translates to very green salad. Some places you can ask for them to put all the greens in a salad so that in addition to arugula, iceberg, and romaine you may also have green onions, parsley and dill weed in there as well, for a phytochemical packed punch with your lunch. 

*** My advice to someone eating a Vegan diet is to order the tomato salad, a green salad and the aubergine, the fava and the deniz borulcesi for a satisfying dinner at a fish restaurant. 

If you are traveling with a bunch of omnivores or taken out to dinner by a Turkish friend who isn’t aware of your dietary restrictions you may very well find yourself at a “Kebapci”, which literally translates to “the kebab place”. There are some establishments that feature many salads and cold dishes you can make a meal out of, but don’t expect to find any tofu or mushroom kebabs here just yet. I look forward to the day that we can see a separate grill for Portobello and Tofu kebabs, but sadly that day is not yet in sight in Istanbul, though I believe such options will be on menus in coming years. For now, here are some of my recommendations for eating at a place not meant to cater to clientele like us! 

Photo via @BEBinthekitch on Instagram
Gavurdag Salatasi: This is a favorite of mine and I highly recommend you try it in summer when tomatoes are ripe. The salad is chopped tomatoes, walnuts, yellow/red onions, parsley, pomegranate molasses, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Walnuts provide protein and good omega-3 fats, so this is definitely a meal in and of itself. 
Zeytin Salatasi: This is not normally found at every restaurant, but some such as the Gunaydin chain feature this on their menus. It is basically chopped green olives with parsley, tomatoes, onions and walnuts. 
Acili Ezme: A spicy tomato paste with onions and peppers that you can spread on pita bread. 
Nar Eksili Patlican Sogurme: Oven blistered eggplant served in a pomegranate molasses and olive oil sauce.
Hummus: Ahhhhh humus, isn’t it every plant-based eater’s lifesaver on a menu? Some kebab establishments have hummus on their menus, but make sure it is vegan because sometimes the hummus is served hot and with pastrami and butter on top. Ick!
Pita Bread: Make sure to check and see if they can make you a pita bread without egg wash on the top, some establishments do this to add glossiness to their pitas as well as to hold in place the Nigella seeds. 
Pilav: Check and see if the rice is cooked with butter. If so, see if the kitchen can make you steamed rice as a replacement. 
Begendi: If you are vegetarian, aren’t gluten-free and eat dairy then you may enjoy eating this smoky eggplant puree that typically has some flour, butter and kasseri cheese melted into it. 
Guvecte Mantar: Button mushrooms in a hot tomato and green pepper broth topped with melted cheese, can be an option for vegetarians. 
Haydari: Greek yogurt lovers, this appetizer’s for you. Thick yogurt with dried mint and garlic. There is also the purslane version mentioned in the fish section you may find at a kebapci. 
Enginar: An artichoke heart cooked in olive oil served with a small potpourri of carrots, potatoes and peas topped with dillweed. 
Soslu Patlican: Eggplant cubed, fried and tossed in a tomato sauce. 
Salads: The salads mentioned in the Balikci section should more or less be the salads you can get at the Kebapci. 
Izgara Sebze Tabagi: Grilled vegetable plate. I don’t see any reason why you would have a problem ordering this at a Kebabci, most white-tablecloth establishments should be able to execute this order. Making sure they don’t grill it on the meat grill is a different story…if worried, stick to the cold veggies. 

Photo via @SehirFirsati
The best breakfast/hangover food is having a hot and crusty tost from your neighborhood tostcu (toast shop). Vegetarians can choose one with Kasar Peyniri (Kasseri Cheese), Beyaz Peynir (Feta Cheese), Krem Peynir (cream cheese) or a mix of all three. Then you can add sliced tomato, potato salad (Amerikan Salatasi), pickles, french fries, zeytin ezmesi (olive tapenade), etc. etc and wash it down with a salty Ayran--a yogurt drink typical of Turkey. For vegans, i can recommend a tost with olive tapenade, oregano and tomatoes but I can’t be positive that the toast machine won’t have some residue butter lingering on its surface. Some places even serve toasts with nutella and banana…not vegan, but worth checking out if you have a sweettooth. Perhaps the most vegan thing at a “tostcu” is one of the fresh squeezed juices such as Nar (Pomegranate), Havuc (Carrot), Greyfrut (Grapefruit) or Portakal (Orange). You can even order a mix of the aforementioned for your own super juice! Drink immediately to extract maximum micronutrient benefit. I must say that since being dairy-free I don’t find it enjoyable to order from a tostcu, so if you are vegan this is not really a recommendation from me, but more of an explanation on a popular dining option. 

Asure @Bolulu Hasan Usta
If you have a sweet tooth and happen to go to a pudding shop you may be able to enjoy a dessert called “Asure”. This is one of the most popular vegan desserts in Turkish cuisine. I love asure because it is a meal in and of itself and has some of my favorite ingredients in it such as chickpeas, rice, navy beans, pomegranate seeds, dried apricots, figs, chestnuts, currants, golden raisins, orange peel, rose water, sugar, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts and sesame seeds. Do you need anymore reasons to try it? How about this: It is a holy dessert enjoyed by those who survived Noah’s Ark. If you are vegetarian you can try almost everything at the Muhallebici but stay clear of the Tavuk Gogusu—it has thin strands of chicken breast in it!

Soup is such a wonderful dish but sadly vegans cannot really confidently enjoy a lentil soup nor a tomato soup at a Corbaci without fearing it is made with chicken/meat stock. Most of the tomato soup in Istanbul is served with a bit of Kasseri cheese sprinkled on top and some of the tomato soups contain cream and butter. 

Vejeteryan Pide at Citir Usta Photo via @Mekanist

At most pide—Turkish thick crust pizza not the thin “lahmacun” pizza topped with mincemeat--places there are a few vegetarian options such as spinach and feta, kasseri cheese and the vejeteryan which is prepared with yellow cheese, peppers, and tomatoes. For a vegan version, it’s worth a try to find out if the spinach has egg or butter in it. If not, perhaps they can make one pide for you with spinach, tomatoes, peppers and no egg wash. If not, ask for a plate of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, olives whatever veggies they have, some olive oil, red pepper flakes and pita bread and make your own vegan pide. 

That’s all for now…stay tuned for more updates including eating at "esnafs", some of our favorite istanbul restaurants, snack foods and more in part 2 and part 3! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fiesta Quinoa Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

photo via @BEBinthekitch

In honor of world vegetarian day yesterday we created this filling salad packed with vitamin A & C, iron, potassium, fiber and protein. It can serve as a meal or as a filling side dish with lighter fare. The lime-cilantro vinaigrette really gives this salad a refreshing, tangy flavor that will please even the most jaded palates.   

Fiesta Quinoa Salad with Zesty Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette 

Serves 6 people:

1 cup Quinoa uncooked (3.5 cups cooked)
1 can Kidney Beans, rinsed*
2/3 cup Sliced Black Olives
1 Sweet Potato, diced into cubes
½ Red Onion, sliced & diced

½ cup Extra Virgin First Cold Press Olive Oil
1 lemon juiced
2 limes juiced
¼ cup chopped cilantro/coriander
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Step 1: First cook the quinoa, 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of filtered water. Before cooking the quinoa, make sure to rinse the seeds a few times to increase their nutritional content and to rinse away the bitter taste that can result if cooked straight as is from package. Then fluff quinoa and leave to cool for about 1-2 hours.

Step 2: As your quinoa is cooking scrub down a sweet potato to get off all of the debris and make it fit for eating with the skin so that you can really take advantage of the high-fiber potential of sweet potatoes. After carefully cleaning cut the sweet potato into cubes and bake at 200 degrees celsius for about 25-30 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Step 3: Mix quinoa, sweet potatoes, kidney beans, red onion, black olives all together in a bowl. Fluff with a fork so as not to mush all ingredients together.

Step 4: Prepare dressing by combining olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, cilantro, cumin powder and red pepper flakes.

Step 5: Pour dressing over quinoa salad; let rest for a bit before serving for best results.

* Black Beans would be even better but as I didn’t have time to cook beans I used canned Kidney Beans, which are easily available in Turkey.

Recipe by Belkis Boyacigiller

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Immune System Boosting Hot'n Sour Soup

The other day I was looking in the fridge, trying to figure out what to make when my eyes spied two packs of Shiitake mushrooms. Seeing as how the weather is cooling down here in Istanbul, I decided to make use of the mushrooms to create a warm and soothing soup. Growing up our father used to make an Asian hot & spicy soup, I tried to call him to get his recipe but as I couldn’t reach him I researched online and ended up just throwing together ingredients I had on hand to create a super-immune boosting soup that was a riff on my dad's. I used a list of top anti-cancer ingredients from the appendix in the book Anti-Cancer as inspiration, so that’s how I can say this is a super-immunity soup. Hope you enjoy!

Recipe: Serves 4

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 handfuls sliced green onions
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 box silken tofu, sliced into cubes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 cups of water/vegetable stock depending on how much water you already put into the pot, if you already have about 1 cup, then just add 3 more.
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Top with 1 handful of sliced green onions

Optional: For a more crunchy texture in your soup (Bamboo shoots or bean sprouts, added last minute for extra crunch), firm tofu, rice noodles…these could all replace the silken tofu or could be used in addition to for a very thick soup.

  • Put ingredients 1-3 into a pot with enough water to cover the ingredients and sauté until translucent but not brown.
  • Add in the shiitake mushrooms, the turmeric, cayenne pepper and sauté the ingredients, the mushrooms should release water so don’t worry about adding in any extra water at this point. The spices should release their aromas as the mushrooms cook.
  • Add in 1 tbsp rice vinegar, juice of 1 lemon and 3-4 cups of water or vegetable stock.

  • Boil for about 15 minutes then simmer for 10.

  • Serve with ground black pepper and a handful of sliced green onions. 

 This soup becomes better the day after, so save some for later!

**Guest Post by Belkis Boyacigiller

My awesome followers!