Monday, December 24, 2012

Sour Cherry and Apple Oatmeal

Most days I'm cooking for one, so it's particularly fun for me when I get to cook for others. Especially when those 'others' happen to be my three favorite people in the world: my mom, dad and sister.

I'm back in Istanbul on winter break from school and it's been nothing short of amazing. I miss this city a whole lot when I'm away, and being a student on winter break is so much fun. No responsibilities! I wake up, workout and get to do what I want all day. Catch up on reading, hang out with friends and most importantly, cook. 

I have cooked every single day since I got here and twice with my sister, which is my favorite. Cooking with someone who knows their way around the kitchen is blissful; we move in sync with each other, chatting and reaching for things, chopping, and managing to stay out of each other's way. She's the best. 

I have a bunch of recipes to share with you guys, but a friend requested the recipe for the oatmeal I made for the family this morning. Oatmeal has become a favorite of mine. It's infinitely customizable and keeps me full for hours. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble keeps you full for a long time, and takes a while to digest, while insoluble is the kind that speeds up your 'movements', if you catch my drift. They are both good, and it's best to consume a mix of both kinds. Oats are soluble, which is why they keep you full for so long. 

Lastly, I recently learned that sour cherries are great for decreasing inflammation. Inflammation is really problematic in the body. It was one of the symptoms of almost every single disease we learned about in my diet assessment and planning class this semester.

On to the recipe!

Sour Cherry and Apple Oatmeal
Serves 4
2 cups oats, rolled (not instant, or steel cut; they have different cooking times)
2 cups oat milk (or any non dairy milk will do)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup sour cherries, fresh or frozen
1 large apple, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried fruit of choice
1 tbsp wheat germ
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
(Optional, 1/2 cup water can be added depending on desired consistency) 

1. Place the walnuts in a pan and toast lightly over a low flame. Make sure not to burn them. They are 'ready' when the smell of the walnuts toasting wafts through the air. 

2. Add the non-dairy milk, chopped apples, cherries, cranberries, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil, and then let simmer for a few minutes until the apples become tender. It is up to you how long you simmer the apples; the longer you simmer, the softer the apples will be. 

3. Add the oats and wheat germ and simmer over a low flame until all the milk is absorbed. Then taste. If the oats are not as creamy or soft as you like, add the optional water (I did). If you prefer your oats with a little bite, you can serve as soon as the milk is absorbed. Make sure to be stirring over a low flame; you don't want to burn your oats! 

Easy peasy. And thanks for reading and commenting, Elyse! You made my day.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Key to Eating Healthy during Finals: Plan Ahead!

I have finals next week, which means my days are spent at the library cramming and if I'm lucky, I get some time at the gym in the evening and maybe get to watch one of my favorite shows, too. 

I'm definitely a food person; while I'm eating my breakfast, I'm thinking of what I want to cook for lunch, and while I'm eating lunch, I'm thinking about dinner. It's a curse and a blessing at the same time. I have a friend who forgets to eat! She is gorgeous and very slender and it completely boggles my mind because I am always thinking about food. You'll never find me in front of the fridge at 10pm, starving without any food. I tend to plan ahead, and here's why you should too. 

When you plan your meals ahead of time, they usually end up being healthier. It really doesn't take much. Choose one day a week to buy some groceries. Make it quick (it's best to go with a list). Maybe decide on a dish or two you want to make with those groceries so you don't end up coming home with brown rice, eggs and apples and hitting up Seamless again. 

Know what works best for you. I know that I study best during the day and that I'm pretty useless at night. That's why I love to take the time in the evenings to prep my veggies and maybe make a dish for the upcoming hectic week. 

Tonight I made orzo, sautéed some eggplant with mushrooms in marinara sauce, chopped carrots and celery, washed grapes and prepared a salad dressing. I went a little overboard but I was having fun. All in all it probably took me 45 minutes? 

This means I can take a healthy lunch to the library tomorrow, which will help me power through my studying. It also means I won't opt for a less healthy option. 

This morning I made an extra large batch of tofu scramble to last me a few days. 

This is my number one tip for friends who come to me trying to lose some weight or get in shape- you need to plan ahead! One of my best girlfriends came to me a few months ago wanting to get in shape and we've been working together ever since. I taught her some easy dishes, encouraged her to drink more water and with these simple changes, she's lost weight and feels better than ever. 

In the words of my favorite Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michaels, 'If you fail to plan, you plan to fail'. Cheesy but true. 

PS: I could not be more excited for the newest season of Biggest Loser which will feature teens for the first time ever! Can't wait to see them get in shape and change their lives. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lentil Walnut Loaf

This lentil walnut loaf I made from Angela's blog, Oh She Glows, is delicious and very healthy. It takes a while to put together but it's worth it. I can't wait to have some leftovers for lunch! And my trusty recipe-taster girlfriend S agreed that it's a hit. If you're looking for a beautiful and impressive vegan main course to bring along to a potluck this holiday season, this one is definitely it.

I modified the recipe only very slightly by
* removing the olive oil and using vegetable broth instead
* and subbing the glaze for store-bought barbecue sauce as I didn't have apple butter.
For the recipe just head here.

I also calculated the nutrition content for one serving. The loaf makes 8 thick slices.

Nutrition Information
1 slice
Calories: 258 kcal
Total fat: 9.0 g
Sat. fat: 1.1g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 441mg
Total carbs: 36g
Fiber: 11g
Protein: 12.3g
Calcium: 7.5%
Iron 19%

Notice the 12g protein for a slice- for all you out there who still ask vegetarians, 'where do you get your protein from?'. I did a little research online and traditional beef meatloaf has about:
215 calories
14g fat
5.4g sat. fat
70g cholesterol
20g protein
0 fiber

So not only is traditional meatloaf giving you a whopping serving of cholesterol and saturated fat, but it isn't giving you any fiber, which is crucial for maintaining your weight, keeping you full and proper digestion.

This goes great with a side salad or sautéed kale and loads of extra barbecue sauce. My favorite is 'Bone Suckin' Sauce' from Whole Foods.

* Had to add, insanely better the next day! Seriously, yum. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tracy Anderson Dance Cardio Workout

Haven't been around here much lately. Not because I haven't been cooking, I have, but I've mostly been making very simple dishes, nothing special. Nothing really worth sharing. Quick and easy things I can whip up in 20 minutes or less, in between classes. I've have a number of house guests which has been so amazing, but it also meant I ate out more than I would have wanted. 

If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen some of the dishes I've been making recently. I made a delicious and beautiful (colorful!) Mexican layered salad yesterday for a potluck at a friend's house. I'll share that easy recipe soon but for now I have something else I just had to share with you. 

Tracy Anderson. 

Have you heard of her? She's trainer to a few super-fit celebrities including Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow and my personal favorite, Nicole Richie. My sister has been a fan of hers for years and I used to make fun of her doing her routines, but now I am a total convert. Sis, if you're reading this, you are always years ahead of me with trends. I readily admit it now! 

Anyway, so Tracy Anderson created her own 'method' as she likes to call it for getting in shape. Her whole shtick is that if you want to get in shape, without bulking up, and really streamline your body, you need to work your 'accessory muscles', which are all the little muscles around the bigger ones. I don't exactly know how it works, but Tracy and all of her clients look amazing, so that's enough reason for me. 

Plus, I used to dance and I miss it a lot   recently. I swear half the reason I even enjoy  going out at night is to dance, so to find a workout that lets me do that is really great. 

I've been doing her dance cardio routines for a few days now and you really work up a sweat- but it's fun! It doesn't feel like you're working out at all, but you know you are because the next day you are sore. My workouts pre-Tracy consisted of (boring!) runs a few times a week, so this is definitely something new and exciting. I actually look forward to it. 

You can buy her videos on Amazon or search for her 10-minute cardio dance workouts on YouTube. My best friend also swears by her 'butt and thighs' workout, which I haven't tried yet. 

Anyway, if you're looking for a new fun workout, I highly recommend Tracy Anderson. I'm gonna keep at it for a month, so next time you see me on the dance floor with my awesome moves, you'll know it's all Tracy, ha! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Vegan Corn Muffins with Jalapeño Bits

Midterms are over which means I can get back in the kitchen and not feel guilty for procrastinating. 

These corn muffins spoke to me the minute I saw them on Kathy's blog. I love a good corn muffin. Especially with some veggie chili, delish and perfect for the crisp fall days we've been having here in New York. 

These took all of 10 minutes to put together and turned out fantastic. I enjoyed one straight out of the oven, and then crumbled another on top of some homemade veggie chili. Perfection. 

I improvised a bit because I didn't have certain ingredients, so here is my slightly adapted version of Kathy's recipe

I also cut the recipe in half because no one who lives alone needs 12 corn muffins lying around, tempting her. 

Vegan Spelt Corn Muffins 
Makes 6
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/3 cup flax milk, or any non dairy milk
1/4 cup apple sauce

1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup vegan butter, melted
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of baking soda
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup chopped pickled jalapeños 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients. Then add the wet ingredients. Scoop the batter into greased muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes of until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, and the tops are golden brown. 

These muffins are just sweet enough without being overwhelmingly so; however, if you prefer your corn muffins on the savory side, I'd halve the maple syrup amount. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Chorizo Tempeh Stuffed Zucchini Boats

My best friend and her close friend were in town this weekend staying with me. I loved having them here with me but we definitely indulged a lot in delicious food (and drinks!) so I'm back on track now, cooking up a bunch of healthy but delicious recipes.

Have you guys heard of The Sexy Vegan? His name is Brian Patton and he's a blogger and cookbook author. If I'm not mistaken, he was not feeling his best and decided to try a vegan diet. He lost a bunch of weight and is a really fantastic vegan chef that films videos of himself cooking his vegan recipes. You can find all his recipes and videos online at

I don't particularly like zucchini all that much. I just don't think it has much of a taste and when it's overcooked, it's absolutely awful. But, I had a bunch in the fridge and was looking for something tasty to make for dinner. I tweeted to The Sexy Vegan asking if he had any ideas and he sent me a video of these chorizo tempeh stuffed zucchini boats that I ended up making.

They are so super easy to make and absolutely yummy! I highly recommend you make these as soon as possible. The chorizo tempeh is so flavorful that I imagine it would be great as a vegan taco stuffing or even mixed with some marinara sauce over whole wheat pasta. It's very versatile and I plan on making another batch and keeping it in the fridge for quick dinners (chorizo tempeh, steamed broccoli and quinoa would be great too...)

You can find the video for said recipe here, on his YouTube page, as well as on his blog. The only modification I made to the recipe was in omitting vegan cheese because I didn't have any on hand. I mixed in some nutritional yeast at the end instead.

I served mine with a side salad of red wine vinegar red cabbage salad. It's a Turkish speciality that I adore and I'll have the (easy!) recipe up this week hopefully.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Easy Heirloom Tomato Salad

Part of the reason I haven't been around with many recipes is because summer just doesn't require overly complicated dishes. With stunning farmers market ingredients, you can put together a delicious meal without a lot of bells and whistles. 

This summer tomato salad is just one such dish. I've been trying to eat as many tomatoes as humanely possible recently, trying to get my fill before fall comes and the tomatoes disappear. This salad I threw together the other day was just perfect. Easy, no fuss, but delicious. 

Since I've been trying to stay away from dairy as much as possible (one week without dairy and my skin clears right up!), I tossed in some cubed firm tofu for some protein. I was skeptical of how the flavors would meld but tofu is a blank slate and thanks to all the other strong flavors (basil, onions, balsamic), the tofu ended up almost mimicking a mild mozzarella

East Heirloom Tomato Salad
Serves 1
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, the more colorful, the better, cubed
1/2 cup firm tofu, cubed
1/4 avocado, cubed 
1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
handful of basil, sliced thinly
handful of spinach, sliced thinly

For the dressing:
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Whisk the ingredients for the dressing together and set aside. Combine all the ingredients for the salad and serve with the dressing. This salad actually tastes better after sitting for a few minutes because the tofu has a chance to absorb all the flavors, so don't hesitate to make ahead of time. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Best BBQ Sauce Ever

Honestly, I haven't meant to stay away for so long, from this here blog of mine. Summer was a total whirlwind and before I knew it, I was back in New York City.

It's only been a few days since I've been back and I already miss Istanbul a lot, but I'm trying to embrace being back in the city and thankfully my mama is coming for a visit soon, which always cheers me up.

I didn't get around to cooking a lot this summer, if at all, because we have this wonderful lady who helps out around the house, who also happens to make delicious Turkish food. Between her food and all my going out, I rarely got around to cooking.

And boy did I miss it! I've been cooking up a storm ever since I've been back in my apartment and it feels great. For me, periods of eating out a lot are always followed by a few weeks of cooking the majority of my meals. I guess this is what we'd call balance.

Last night I wanted to make a yummy dinner for myself, but didn't have too much on hand, and was too lazy to pop down to the market. Yes, that lazy. Luckily I had a log of tempeh, some potatoes and some spinach and I came up with a delicious meal, if I must say so myself. And one of my best friends called just as I was finishing up, so she joined me. She has perfect timing, that one- she can feel when I've cooked or baked something and I love her for it.

I ended up making a homemade barbecue sauce that was to die for. It's Kathy's recipe from this blog, and if you haven't checked it out yet, you must. Her blog is one that I visit daily and she never lets me down with her fantastic creations.

You can find the barbecue sauce recipe here, and even though I didn't have a few things on hand (ketchup, for example), the sauce was still perfection. I plan to make a large batch of it soon to keep in the fridge and slather on everything. If any of you are as obsessed with BBQ sauce as I am, you might want to know that most commercial varieties have high-fructose corn syrup or a lot of sugar in them, so making your own is a wonderful way to avoid this. Plus you can make it as spicy as you like.

I slathered it on some tempeh that I had sautéed and we enjoyed it with some oven-roasted garlic potatoes, recipe courtesy of another favorite, The Barefoot Contessa, and a simple spinach salad.

Trust me when I say you should make a double batch of the BBQ sauce. I might or might not have ended up finishing the remaining sauce with a spoon only! Don't judge.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chipotle Chop Salad

Salads are one of my favorite meals but they can get a bit boring. But with a bit of creativity (and blog or cookbook browsing), you can create unusual but delicious salads that are filling and don't make you want to reach for a burger after. 

One of the best ways to make a filling salad is by incorporating beans and grains. My favorite grain to include is quinoa. It is protein packed and because its light, it sticks to the lettuce in the salad (instead of collecting at the bottom of the bowl like brown rice). Fun fact: quinoa isn't even actually a grain. It's a seed and a complete protein, thus ideal for vegetarians and vegans. 

Today I was in charge of lunch for me, my sister and my dad so I whipped up this simple but colorful salad that tasted much better than it looks. The recipe is adapted from one of Chef Chloe's recipes from her book, 'Chloe's Kitchen', which has become a staple for me. This salad actually tastes better when it has had time to soak just a bit, because the beans and quinoa soak up the dressing, so its a perfect make-ahead meal. 

Chipotle Chop Salad
Serves 4
Adapted from Chloe's Kitchen
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 cup red cabbage, sliced thinly
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1 cup beans of your choice, I used navy beans but black would have been tastier
2 tbsp hemp hearts, optional
2 spring onions, thinly sliced 
handful walnuts, chopped 
handful cilantro, chopped
1 tsp chipotle seasoning

for the dressing:
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp agave or honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon (lime is better but I only had lemons) 
1 garlic clove, minced

Combine all ingredients and serve! Easy peasy and delicious. 

Saturday, June 30, 2012

No One Likes A Judgmental Omni

Editor's note: There is no recipe in this post. Skip it if you don't wanna hear me rant! 

I was actually going to title this post, 'No One Likes a Judgmental Omni or Veggie' but it got too long. 

A few weeks ago I was invited to a dinner with a friend, where a bunch of her friends were present. I hadn't met any of them before, and I had a good time. Except for one thing that happened that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.

Enter the judgmental omnivore

As anyone who chooses to live life differently realizes, many people are uncomfortable with outliers

Vegans and vegetarians, however, really get a shocking amount of judgment for their dietary choices. 

Let me get back to the dinner. There I was, chatting with everyone, minding my own business, when it came time to order. Everyone ordered pasta or meat, and I ordered fish. Somehow it came out that I don't eat meat. I'm pretty sure I was asked, because I don't readily offer up that information. I have learned my lesson from past experiences. 

Yes, that is Dana Carvey, as 'Church Lady'.
What ensued was pretty awful, but unfortunately not as uncommon as you'd think. A guy at the table, who was sufficiently intoxicated to perhaps give him an extra dose of courage, basically started attacking me and my choice to not eat meat. He said he thought vegetarians were stupid. He said he didn't like people that don't eat meat. He laughed at me, when I tried to politely explain my beliefs. He was incredibly rude, for no other reason, than the fact that I don't eat animals. 

Now, this has happened to me a lot before. And it's just something I can't get my head around no matter how much I think about it. 

There are a number of reasons why I don't eat meat and over the last three years, I have learned that these reasons are quite personal. I don't push my beliefs on anyone

What gives you the right to judge me and my lifestyle choices? 

What drives me crazy is that people have this misguided belief that vegans and vegetarians are judgmental and try to push their beliefs on other people and I personally have found vegans and vegetarians to be much more understanding and compassionate than meat-eaters. I don't want to generalize- this is just my experience. But for some reason, either because they feel bad about their own meat consumption, or because they think I think I'm better than them, I have been in many, many situations where people have said terrible things to me just because I choose to not eat dead cows. 

This guy was Turkish, and maybe it's a cultural difference, but I doubt it. Aren't we supposed to be accepting of different peoples beliefs and lifestyle choices? 

I can almost always tell when someone is actually curious to learn my reasons for not eating meat, and when someone is just waiting for their chance to talk so they can try to eviscerate me with their own beliefs. At that moment, it was clear this guy didn't want to learn anything, but rather just wanted to be right. 

No matter, it's not about this particular jerk. I'm writing this mostly to vent but also to hopefully allow someone to reconsider their attitude towards people who have different beliefs than them. 

The next time you meet someone who chooses to practice a belief system you don't agree in, or someone who doesn't eat animals, or whatever it may be, stop and think of what a wonderful opportunity that is to learn something new. Stop and think that maybe everything you've been taught isn't 'right'. Just stop and think! (My sister took a class with this title; maybe they teach this stuff there!) 

No one deserves to be judged so cruelly because of the way they live. 

I've learned to accept the fact that some people are just really close-minded. And after all, karma's a bitch. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Healthier Alternative to Cheese

I'm not vegan anymore. I was a while ago, and to be honest, I've never felt better than when I was vegan. You feel lighter. Everything works right. You are more focused. Your skin clears up. And you lose weight. 

And even though I'm not vegan anymore, I eat vegan 90% of the time. Just like Dr.Oz;) What this means is that if I'm out at a restaurant, and my friends want to share some dishes that include dairy or fish, I won't make a big fuss. But at home, it's vegan all the way.

Especially if I've got a few lbs. to lose, I focus on eating more plant-based. Just in the past week I've been eating strictly plant-based and shed the 5 lbs. I was struggling with. Veganism works people!

I'm not talking about being a 'junk-food vegan' though. In the world we live in today, especially if you happen to live in a city like New York City, vegan junk food options abound. And there are a lot of overweight vegans. Those who live on mock-meats (vegan sausage, vegan bacon), vegan cupcakes and vegan cheeses. I'm not a fan of this way of eating either. 

When I say vegan, I mean plant-based, which means eating lots of fruits and veggies at every meal, as well as lots of beans and tofu (and nuts for good measure). 

One of the reasons I am no longer vegan is because I love cheese, like most people. But it's really mucus-forming, bad for your skin and full of saturated fat (not to mention loaded with calories!). I made this cashew cream the other day and altered it a bit today for a broccoli and mushroom wrap I was making for lunch. It was so creamy and delicious, I didn't miss dairy cheese at all. 

I'm using an Android at the moment, so photo quality sucks. 

Give it a try, it might surprise you. 

Cashew Cream with Sun-dried Tomatoes
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp onion powder (or chopped onions, I was out)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
handful chopped sun-dried tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp olive oil

Soak the cashews in enough water to cover them overnight in the fridge. The next day rinse them and place them in a high-speed blender with a cup of fresh water. Blend until a smooth consistency is formed. This is your basic cashew cream. 

Saute the garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add the cashew cream and remaining ingredients and cook on low for 10 minutes or until everything is incorporated. 

Use as a base for wraps, in a vegan mac 'n' cheese or really anywhere you would normally use dairy cheese. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lemon Zested Broccoli with Parmesan

This broccoli is hands down the best broccoli I've ever had. Don't think I haven't noticed that I've been coming to you with really simple vegetable recipes recently. I think I owe you a dessert sometime soon. Actually, they can hardly be called recipes, because they are more food preparation techniques. But I think summer calls for simplifying

Take really fantastic ingredients (which are plenty in the summer) and do very little with them. Play with them just enough to make them shine. That's what I'm all about these days. 

Now, I've always been a fan of broccoli but when something is so good prepared simply, you don't really think to dress it up a lot. Thank goodness I found this recipe, and of course I owe it all to the ever-charming Ina Garten. And as much as I love my Barefoot Contessa, I am a nutrition student at the end of the day, which means I slashed the oil by a lot. 


This recipe is super simple but there's just something in the way all the flavors come together that is beyond

Lemon Zested Broccoli with Parmesan
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa
1 head broccoli, broken into florets
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp (or more) grated Parmesan
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lemon, zest and juice*
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Separate the broccoli into mini-florets and place on baking sheet (do not wash the broccoli! or if you do, make sure to really dry it. You want the broccoli super dry when it goes into the oven. It roasts better). Slice garlic cloves and add to pan. Pour oil over broccoli and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix.

Roast the broccoli for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Once the broccoli has browned a bit, remove from the oven, zest the lemon with a microplane, squeeze the juice of one lemon and add the grated parmesan. Mix, taste and adjust for salt and pepper. 

I think you'll find like I did that it's just something about the combination of the lemon zest and juice and parmesan that just makes the broccoli really sing

Best broccoli I've had yet, hands down. 

*Remember to zest the lemon before you squeeze it for its juice. It's impossible to zest a lemon after it's been juiced, which I had to learn the hard way. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Perfect Sweet Potatoes

I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes as I've mentioned on here before. They are extremely good for you (438% of your daily Vitamin A, 37% of your daily Vitamin C and 15% of your daily fiber needs) and just delicious as well. 

Though I am a fan of sweet potato fries, I try to stay away from fried foods most of the time. I get why normal potatoes need to be fried- they aren't that great prepared simply, so frying them in oil and adding a bunch of salt elevates them to a whole other level. 

How good does that look!?

But sweet potatoes are fantastic prepared simply. You really don't have to do much to make them really amazing. 

My favorite way to prepare them is by roasting them in the oven with some smoked paprika (an obsession), salt, pepper and just a touch of olive oil. A little really does go a long way here. 

The Perfect Sweet Potatoes
3 large sweet potatoes, cut into fourths*, skins on**
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
a few whirls of fresh ground pepper

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. 

Cut the potatoes into fourths, combine oil, paprika, salt and pepper on parchment paper on a pan with the potatoes. Bake for 20 minutes, flip them over and bake for another 20 minutes. 

* I used to always dice my sweet potatoes, but after seeing the Barefoot Contessa cut hers into fourths, I realized leaving them larger allows for more fluffy center to crispy edge ratio in the finished product. So go larger, trust. 

** You really should keep the skins on as that's where all the fiber is. I give them a good scrub with a dish scrubber (sans soap!) and they're good to go. 

Finally, if you haven't noticed, I only used 1.5 teaspoons for all three potatoes! And as you can see in the photos, it was more that enough to get them crusty and delicious. I know a lot of people who are very generous with the oil and it really does add up (1 tablespoon has 120 calories vs. 40 calories for one teaspoon). 

I enjoyed one of these at lunch, on top of a bed of arugula with cannellini beans. Yum! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

My Favorite Tuna Salad

It's finals time. Which means I'm doing everything under the sun except studying for finals, of course. That includes deep-cleaning the apartment, going for long runs and cooking a lot. 

I'm a fan of tuna salad. But it can be a total calorie-bomb because of one word: mayonnaise! However, it's really easy to make a lighter and tastier tuna salad that features a bunch of gorgeous vegetables as well. This is my favorite recipe. I like mine wrapped in nori (seaweed), but I enjoy it over salad greens or wrapped in an Ezekiel wrap as well. 

Lightened Up Tuna Salad
Serves 2
4 oz tuna in oil, drained
2 tsp mayonnaise, vegan or normal
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp nonfat yogurt, or whatever you have
1 tbsp capers
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 pickles, chopped
a few baby carrots, chopped
handful arugula, chopped
2 nori wrappers

Combine all the ingredients except the nori in a bowl. Spread the tuna salad in a nori wrapper. Enjoy. 

Nutrition Info
Per serving
Calories: 135
Fat: 5.8 g
Carbs: 1.2 g
Protein: 17.2 g

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Banana Soft Serve, 2 Variations

Hey there! It's been a while! No excuses, I've just been busy. 

Bloggers tend to read other blogs and get inspired for ideas from what others are making. I'm no exception. I've read about a homemade raw, vegan banana ice cream/frozen yogurt on a few blogs for a while now and wanted to try it. But then I thought, 'banana ice cream? meh, not so much'. Turns out this easy one-step yogurt is amazing, healthy and so easy. I know, I said that, but for real. 

Plus, for some reason the banana-ness of it is not overpowering, considering that it basically only consists of bananas. Now, I'm starting to sound crazy so I'll tell you the secret: you freeze a bunch of bananas. Throw them in the food processor. Add a dash or non-dairy (or dairy) milk, and give it a whirl. After a few minutes of processing you'll have the most amazing frozen banana yogurt ever. And it's guilt-free as well. I will be making this all the time from now on. 

Sometimes the simplest ideas really are the most brilliant!

The coolest part is that it is pretty easily customizable. I added some cinnamon on top but later I started thinking of tons of fun ways to jazz it up. You could add some nut butter for a peanut butter banana version or cocoa for a chocolate version. You could probably add a date or two to make it extra sweet and some other frozen fruits if you wanted. 

Banana Soft Serve
Serves 2
2-3 frozen bananas
a dash of non-dairy milk

Place all ingredients in food processor and allow to mix for a few minutes until a creamy consistency is achieved. 

I must be honest, if this recipe weren't so delicious, I'd be a bit embarrassed coming to you after weeks of absence with this no-work, no-frills recipe. But it's really that good. So get to it. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Version

This version I created the other night and it's infinitely better than the one above. Since a few of you asked for the recipe, here it is! I can't explain how this has changed my life. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but this actually tastes like real frozen yogurt. 

Makes 1 serving
1 frozen banana
1 tsp hazelnut butter (or whatever nut butter you have)
1 tsp cocoa powder
1 drop vanilla extract

Place ingredients in a food processor. Let work for at least 5 minutes, or until a creamy consistency occurs. Enjoy with crushed hazelnuts on top, or plain. That's it! Easy peasy and so good. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cookbook Review: Chloe's Kitchen

As a vegetarian who tries to eat mostly vegan at home, I rely heavily on cookbooks by creative vegan chefs. However, there is nothing more frustrating than purchasing one and realizing most of the recipes are long and complicated or require an endless list of 'use-once' ingredients. Chloe Coscarelli's new cookbook, Chloe's Kitchen, is not like this. In fact, after only a week I can confidently say it's going to go into regular rotation in my home. 

There are a few rockstars of the vegan cooking world. Isa Chandra Moskowitz, known for the vegan cooking bible 'Veganomicon', and her many delightful baking books ('Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World', 'Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar', etc.), Erin McKenna of Babycakes fame ('Babycakes', 'Babycakes Covers the Classics') and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau ('The Vegan Table', 'Joy of Vegan Baking') are just a few. Though still young and having only just published her first vegan cookbook, I know Chloe will make a perfect addition to this list. 

Why am I so confident? Well in just under a week I have already cooked 4 recipes from Chloe's book, all of which were fantastic. Plus, in case you didn't know, Chloe is the first winner of The Food Network's Cupcake Wars, and she competed against non-vegan bakers, proving once and for all that no one needs eggs to make a perfect cupcake. 

So far I have made her Falafel Sliders with Avocado Hummus and Tahini Sauce along with her Sea Salt Toffee Bars for three of my omni (veggie slang for omnivore;)) friends, and they loved both recipes. I also made her Fettucine Alfredo (with my favorite Shirataki noodles subbed in for the fettuccine) for myself one night, and the delicious Cheesy Broccoli Soup. I made slight modifications to each recipe, which I think means I can share them on here...

Recipe will be posted soon!

For now, all you need to know is that Chloe's cookbook is a wonderful contribution to any chef's bookshelf and great for omnis and vegans alike. One of the best parts? Almost every recipe has a gorgeous photo, which is something I value in a good cookbook. If I don't know what the final product looks like, why bother, right? 

If you are looking for some inspiration to eat more plant-based, this cookbook is just what you need to get you there. Kudos to Chloe! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vegan Cupcakes with Cinnamon Glaze

I've started getting back into more vegan baking and cooking in the last few weeks. I definitely go back and forth. There are times when I feel like an egg is simply necessary for my baking endeavors and as has happened recently, times when I feel like there is really no need since so many amazing vegan baking recipes exist. I'd like to not make a habit out of always cooking the traditional way. I like to mix things up and see what works and what doesn't. For me, the kitchen is always a place of experimentation. 

A few weeks ago I baked up a batch of Jess' Vegan French Toast Cupcakes. Jess is a vegan blogger who I've sort of become friends with online. She's very creative and always makes the most delicious (but easy!) looking recipes. She is one of those vegans that creates such impressive dishes that it makes you wonder why we need animal products at all. I urge you to check out her blog, Cupcakes and Kale, here

I followed the recipe to a T and they were really delicious. Moist and light, just the way I like them. I didn't want to layer on the frosting, so I made half the amount in Jess' recipe and used it as a light glaze instead. Because I didn't have maple extract, I used a few tablespoons of maple syrup, tasting as I went, until the frosting was the desired sweetness. 

These turned out really brilliant and I recommend you give 'em a whirl the next time you decide to make cupcakes. And if you have yet to try out a vegan cupcake recipe, please believe me when I say, what are you waiting for!? They are just as tasty and lower in cholesterol because of the absence of eggs. Plus cruelty free. 

Oh and on a non-cooking blog related note: 
look what came in the mail! Excited! 

Ps: Does anyone know where I can watch Food Network shows online? I don't have cable and they aren't available for purchase on iTunes. It really bums me out. I miss the Barefoot Contessa. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Healthy Tip: Make Your Breakfast The Night Before

Of all the weight loss excuses, I think the most common one would have to be, 'I don't have time'. I don't have time to workout. I don't have time to eat healthy. I don't have time to grocery shop/cook/walk etc. And before I started grad school, I didn't really understand how you couldn't take 10 minutes a day to prep some veggies or prepare a simple meal for yourself. But now, I get it. It's not about not having the time, it's that you'd rather spend that time relaxing/watching your favorite show/being with your family etc./playing with your cat/drinking etc. 

I feel like 80% of losing weight and staying in shape is about making it a priority. Do you really not have ten minutes to chop some veggies to snack on later? Or is it that you'd rather spend those 10 minutes reading a magazine? If it's the latter, be honest with yourself and accept that fact. It's ok. But at least then you will realize that you chose to read that magazine instead of going for a brisk walk around the block- catch my drift?

I have early morning classes three times a week and I am not a morning person by any means. I have had trouble sleeping for the past few months and without my coffee (yes, I am addicted) I simply cannot focus that early in the morning. I usually end up rushing to class, sweaty and hungry. Not my style. I like to plan and being that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, starting it off with an energy bar is no fun. 

This makes enough for two breakfasts, or if I'm starving...

One thing that works wonderfully for me is to prepare my breakfast the night before. I was just laying in bed watching 'The Biggest Loser' (I'm obsessed, and cry every episode) when I thought to this morning and how I ate this disgusting energy bar (it was called 'Think Thin'- never again) before class because I was rushed. I imagined it happening again tomorrow morning and forced myself out of bed to prepare breakfast. It might sound ridiculous but. it. works.

When you prepare your breakfast the night before whether it be hard-boiling a few eggs, preparing some oatmeal with blueberries, brown sugar and chopped walnuts or sauteeing some tofu, mushrooms and red peppers for a tofu scramble (what I just did), you know it's taken care of and you can have something to look forward to in the morning. I also think starting the day with a home-cooked meal, even if it's rushed, is a great way to start the day. Especially if you've made it for yourself. Why? Because you are showing yourself that you care about you! That your health is a priority and that you are making smart choices for yourself. That might sound cheesy but it works for me. 

Honestly, it took ten minutes and doesn't that look amazing? Plus, a tofu scramble is about half the calories of any energy bar out there and probably not even a third of the fat. I'll add the nutritional info later, but for now, it's back to my 'Biggest Loser'. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Lowfat Oatmeal Cookies with Dates and Carob Chips

Baking is an escape for me. I've mentioned before that when there are problems I don't want to deal with, I bake. I guess there are worse things I could be doing. At least with this 'escape' I end up with a nice of batch of something yummy to eat, right?

Note: I just noticed after posting this how long the ingredient list looks. Keep in mind that it comes together quickly and the carob and dates can be left out, or subbed for whatever you have on hand (raisins, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, walnuts, etc.)

I have a Nutrition exam tomorrow and guess what I'm doing? Baking! Well, in my defense, I had a super brutal Human Physiology exam on Tuesday morning, which I spent the last week studying for everyday. Seriously I felt like I was at boot-camp or something because every waking hour was spent studying. I took breaks for eating and working out (and the occasional episode of 30 Rock), but not much else. And now that that exam is over with and went well, I don't feel like cracking another textbook for the next month. Unfortunately, that's not realistic, but I digress- back to the baking!

Right now I have these vegan cookie dough balls firming up in the freezer (yes, I realize how ridiculous that sentence sounds) and a pan of sweet potatoes and onions roasting in the oven. I'll have those recipes for you later. For now, cookies. 

One last thing, if you haven't heard of Ellie Krieger and you're a fan of low fat baking that doesn't use weird ingredients, you should check her out. I bought her latest cook, 'Comfort Food Fix' and she cleverly lightens a bunch of favorite comfort food recipes and provides the nutrition info before and after. I'm a fan. 

Lowfat Whole Wheat Oatmeal, Date, Carob Cookies
Makes 30 cookies
Adapted from Ellie Krieger's recipe in 'Comfort Food Fix'
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup smooth sunflower butter
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1/2 cup carob chips*, optional

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

1. Combine the butter, oil, agave, sugar, egg, sunflower butter and vanilla in a large bowl, and mix until combined. 

2. In another smaller bowl, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, cinnamon). 

3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined. Stir in the oats, dates and sunflower butter. Be careful with the dates as they are sticky and will clump, so try to make sure they distribute evenly. 

4. Scoop 1-tbsp size chunks of the dough onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced. Mine ended up round so if you prefer flatter cookies, use the back of a fork to gently flatten each cookie. 

Bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the center is still soft to the touch. Allow to cool, preferably on a cooling rack before eating. 

Nutrition Info
Per cookie
Calories: 102
Fat: 4.7g
Carbs: 18g
Fiber: 2.0g
Sugar: 6.7g
Protein: 2.1g

I took these to school and my friends seemed to like them. They're a lil' healthy tasting but that's to be expected with the whole wheat pastry flour. Substituting agave for most of the sugar means they won't make your blood sugar spike too much either. 

*I had heard a lot about carob chips but had never used them before. They are half the calories of normal chocolate chips and don't have refined sugar in them! You can find out more about them here if so inclined. Feel free to sub regular chocolate chips. 

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