Cooking

December Food Swap – Hereditary Holidays!!!

For this month’s food swap, we were each supposed to make a traditional holiday dish from the country of our ancestry. My assignment was to cook a protein. Now while my ancestors from Austria were Jewish, I decided to go with a traditional Christmas meal. (To be honest, I’m kind of tired of potato latkes…)

While researching Austrian Christmas, I kept coming across fried carp as their traditional Christmas Eve dinner. I was not too keen on attempting a vegan fish meal, so decided to keep looking.  The next most popular Austrian holiday dish: wiener schnitzel. Most people think wiener schnitzel comes from Germany, but it is in fact Austrian. To go along with it, it seemed German potato salad was the best side dish, so to make it a bit more fun, healthy and colorful, I went with something else.

So…introducing:

Vegan Schnitzel and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad!

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad Vegan Schnitzel

Vegan Schnitzel

  • 5 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 cups Soy Milk
  • 2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  • 1 teaspoons Pepper
  • 4 Tempeh Patties (4 ounces)
  • 2/3 cup Bread Crumbs unseasoned
  • 1/2 cup Organic Parsley chopped
  • Lemon slices to squeeze

Combine 2 tablespoons oil with the soy milk and half the salt and pepper. Marinate the tempeh in this mixture for 15 minutes.

Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining salt and pepper and mix well.

Remove the patties and dip in the bread crumbs until evenly coated on both sides.

Heat the remaining oil and sauté the patties 3 minutes per side until brown. Remove from heat, drain on paper towels, and serve.

Variation:

Preheat oven to 375°F and place coated tempeh on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes on each side.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, cumin, and ginger directly on baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, chutney, mustard, honey, garlic, and olive oil in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Let potatoes cool slightly, then toss them with the cranberries, scallions and chutney dressing. Transfer to serving platter and scatter almonds over top. Serve warm or room temperature.

Categories: Cooking, Holidays, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Place Your Cookie Orders Now!

Place your cookie orders now!

$15 for an assorted box of 4

$25 for an assorted box of 8

$40 for an assorted box of 12

$50 for an assorted box of 24

Cookies available: Cherry Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Walnut, Almond, Pumpkin Spice Balls, Oatmeal Raisin (the best you’ll ever have!)

Categories: Cookies, Cooking, Gifts, Holiday Gifts, Holidays, Vegan | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

This is happening next Saturday, December 8th! Join us!

april dechagas

NEXT SATURDAY!!

Join two of my favorite teachers, Monja Mani & Tamar Samir  for this special event at Jivamukti Yoga School , taking place on Saturday, December 8th, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., to support women’s higher education in India. Suggested donation is $25.  All levels are welcome.

In addition to what will definitely amount to an amazing yoga class, I will be providing some yummy vegan baked goods for the event! You don’t want to miss it!

About NIA – It all started over 10 years ago with a small, but timely donation that enabled one girl to realize her dreams through education. Her empowerment and success motivated Arun Mani, NIA’s founder and president, to continue this cycle of generosity. At the moment, NIA supports roughly 50-60 girls each year with their higher education in India. NIA believes that the best way to empower a young girl without means…

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Categories: Cooking, Fundraising, Vegan, Yoga | Tags: | Leave a comment

This Month’s Food Swap Theme: Squash It!

It’s squash season! So this month’s food swap theme was called “Squash it!” Each of us were assigned a different type of squash and a meal. My assignment: Delicata squash and dinner.

I wanted to go with something that is quite filling, suitable for a main course, or a stand-alone meal, and decided to go with a chickpea, spinach and squash gnocchi dish. I followed the recipe pretty closely, adding some chopped nuts to the dish as well. I had almonds in the house, but think walnuts would go really really well. I also think next time I make it, I might roast the squash first:

 

 

Chickpea, Spinach & Squash Gnocchi

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound shelf-stable gnocchi
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced unpeeled delicata squash (1- to 2-inch-long slices) (can also use butternut squash)
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots (1-2 medium)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 oz. vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried rubbed
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 8 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar reduction
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add gnocchi and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil, squash, shallots and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in broth, currants, sage and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring, until the squash is almost cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Add spinach, chickpeas and the gnocchi and cook, gently stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes more. Serve drizzled with balsamic reduction.

 

Categories: Cooking, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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Halloween Food Swap!

For the last two years some friends and I have been part of a monthly food swap. Each month we have a different theme, and each of us has a different assignment/category. The categories could be a type of food (i.e. vegetable, greens, proteins, grains or fruit), or sometimes a specific type of meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack – you get the idea). We make 2 portions of our dish for each person in the group to take home, and then we have meals already made for the rest of the week!

Our theme this month was called Monster Mash – we were each given a monster and a food category. My assignment was vampires and vegetables, so I made a roasted red pepper and tomato soup (so all the vampires would have some blood to drink) and decorated it with some MOMA type ghosts and witches and other creepy crawlies using vegan sour cream. (And while everyone’s dish looks amazing, and I can’t wait to eat them, special shout-out to Helen who made Zombie Brain stuffed tomatoes! Picture below!)

AND it was my turn to host, so I got to have some extra special Halloween fun! I did some research on the inter-webs and compiled a few fun and easy recipes, and veganized them where necessary. I had so much fun, I thought I’d share them in time to keep you busy during the “Frankenstorm” in case you get bored 😉

Pumpkin Krispie Treats – fresh4five

Ghostinis with Bloody Murder Sundried Tomato Tapenade – The Food Network

Asparagus Skeletons  – VegSpinz (I changed this one up a bit, using garlic hummus(to keep those vampires away) instead of garlic cream cheese – it was REALLY GOOD!)

Blueberry Rickety Eyeball Punch – The Food Network

And my food swap recipe:

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

4 large red peppers
6 1/2 cups red tomatoes
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup *creme fraiche (I used vegan sour cream)
4 tablespoons unsalted Earth Balance
1 tablespoon vegetable base
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
Sea salt, to taste
White pepper, to taste

In a medium-sized, heavy-bottom sauce pan, melt 1 teaspoon earth balance over medium heat. Add flour and combine well to create a roux. Reduce heat and cook the mixture until light tan in color and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

Grill the red peppers or expose to an open flame, turning frequently, until blackened all over. (I just stuck mine directly on the gas burners of my stove-top)

Place the warm, roasted peppers in a paper bag, seal and set aside for 3-4 minutes. Peel off the skin, gently wiping away any remaining black skin from the surface. Slice open the peppers and discard the seeds and any white membrane. Do not rinse the pepper.

If using fresh tomatoes, cut a small X shape into the bottom of each whole tomato. Add tomatoes to a pot of boiling water and cook uncovered for 2 minutes. Remove tomatoes from water using tongs. Peel off the skins and discard.

Using a blender, puree the peppers and tomatoes together until smooth. Use a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds and fiber.

Whisk 1/2 cup of the tomato-pepper mixture into the roux over medium heat and combine well. Working in several batches, add the remaining mixture to the saucepan, blending until smooth.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer covered for 5 minutes, then uncovered for 15 minutes.

Add 1/3 cup coconut milk, vegetable base, tomato paste, sugars. Continue to simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes then gently whisk in the remaining butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cool, the soup, transfer to a ceramic bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight.

The following day, heat the soup over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Top with vegan sour cream (as I mentioned, I attempted to make some fun designs, that starting out were supposed to be spider webs, but ended up going with a more artistic interpretation.)

Categories: Cooking, Halloween, Halloween Recipes, Recipes, Vegan, Vegan Halloween | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Donation Yoga Class for NIA – A Ray of Hope and Free Vegan Treats Baked By Me!

NEXT SATURDAY!!

Join two of my favorite teachers, Monja Mani & Tamar Samir  for this special event at Jivamukti Yoga School , taking place on Saturday, December 8th, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., to support women’s higher education in India. Suggested donation is $25.  All levels are welcome.

In addition to what will definitely amount to an amazing yoga class, I will be providing some yummy vegan baked goods for the event! You don’t want to miss it!

About NIA – It all started over 10 years ago with a small, but timely donation that enabled one girl to realize her dreams through education. Her empowerment and success motivated Arun Mani, NIA’s founder and president, to continue this cycle of generosity. At the moment, NIA supports roughly 50-60 girls each year with their higher education in India. NIA believes that the best way to empower a young girl without means is through education.

If you want to learn more about NIA visit http://www.nia-arayofhope.org/

Categories: Cooking, Vegan, Yoga | 1 Comment

Sanskrit and Veganism and Mountain Ranges, Oh My!

Annapurna, Hindu Kitchen Goddess

I started learning how to read and write Sanskrit about 8 months ago. I immediately took to it, finding it quite meditative, yet intellectually stimulating at the same time. So of course when I started thinking about the food that I am cooking, I also did some digging on how I could connect it to Sanskrit and yoga. To my surprise, not only did I find the perfect Sanskrit word, I also found a goddess (and a mountain range) to go along with it…

In Sanskrit, annapurna, अन्नपूर्ण, means “full of food”.  Annapurna is also known in Hinduism as the “Kitchen Goddess, the mother that feeds”. To delve slightly deeper into the word, purna also means whole or complete.

This was perfect! I am cooking wholesome, complete food and feeding it to people. I am Annapurna!

I also found that Annapurna is the name of a Himalayan mountain range in Nepal, and the Annapurna Conservation Area was the first conservation area in Nepal.

So what does this mountain conservation area have to do with vegan cooking, you ask? Allow me to explain…

The farming industry (in particular, factory farming) in the United States is one of the leading factors to the decline of our environment. Here is a quick summary from Sustainable Table and Food and Water Watch:

  • In a healthy (read:small and sustainable) farming system, agriculture works in harmony with the natural environment. Crops are rotated to different fields, and when there is livestock involved, their manure replenishes the land.
  • Just one factory farm alone, that has 35,000 hogs on it produces over 200 millions pounds of waste a year! 200 million pounds! From one farm!  All of this waste is going into the air and water that we breath and drink each day. In addition to the physical waste that is produced, inordinate amounts of methane and  hydrogen sulfide are being released into the atmosphere, expediting global warming. These pollutants also include the antibiotics, growth hormones, chemical fertilizers and pesticides being used on these farms – going into the atmosphere, water and our food.
  • A majority of the farming land in the United States is not used to feed humans, but used to grow crops to feed the animals (that are treated extremely poorly) on the factory farms.
  • The meat and dairy industry uses more fossil fuels (whose by-products are also a leading cause of global warming) than any other. Large quantities of energy are used to cultivate, harvest and ship animal feed, house, transport and slaughter animals, and process and package the meat/dairy products.

So to wrap up this convoluted connection to the Annapurna Conservation Area, aside from the fact that the Himalayan environmental balance is in danger due to global warming, keeping a vegan organic diet (and a local as much as  possible diet) helps conserve the environment overall.

And if you have the thought, “I am just one person, what is changing my diet going to do?”, I leave you with this:

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.” African Proverb

Vegan Diet = Healthy Environment = Healthy You!

Categories: Cooking, Vegan, Yoga | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Fall Bounty With an Asian Twist

Many people assume summer is the best season for fruits and veggies, but in fact you will find that September and October is when farmer’s markets are jam-packed and bursting with the most flavor and variety in the New York area.

Here is the menu for the meal I am cooking at my client’s home tonight. I am using a variety of fall ingredients and giving it an Asian twist, with a special dessert, also made from scratch.

Appetizer:

Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Rice Paper Rolls w/Cranberry-Chile Dipping Sauce

Main Course:

Marinated Asian Tempeh

Baby Bok Choy with Crispy Shallots and Sesame Seeds

Green Tea Rice with Almonds

Dessert:

Almond Cookie Green Tea Ice Cream Sandwiches

Categories: Cooking, Vegan | Tags: , | Leave a comment

How It All Started

Drawn by April Dechagas

Wild Woodstock is a tiny piece of heaven in upstate NY,and where dreams come true… or where Sharon Gannon and David Life, of Jivamukti Yoga, teach at their home for the month of August each year. Kind of the same thing…

It is also where the seed of cooking for a living was planted in my brain.

A bunch of us had rented a house for a week, and I was asked to play house chef during our time there. So I created a menu and off we went. I really thought nothing of it. We needed to eat during the week, and I know how to cook. That is all.

There were only two other people in the house who had experienced my food previously. The others had no clue what they were getting into. For all they knew, I was going to throw a bowl of (vegan) slop on the table and call it a meal. As the week went on, I was receiving more and more compliments, and each night we were there, someone would say I should be doing this as a living. I thought they were crazy. I told them they were crazy. And yet…

I enjoy cooking, and I especially enjoying feeding people who do not typically cook for themselves. So why not? The seed was planted…but it had not sprouted yet….

Soon after, my friends Nechama and Michael gave me a call. They wanted to hire me to go to their friend’s house and cook dinner for the family one night…and so a tiny plant started to grow…that is growing and growing into a full-blown tree.

Note: If you don’t believe me about Woodstock being a tiny piece of heaven, just take a look at the picture above, which is a pretty good representation of the garden where we were staying – paradise!

Categories: Cooking, Vegan, Yoga | 3 Comments