Saturday, October 30, 2010

Summer on a Rainy Day: Vegitarian Bun

Though its raining outside, I continue to try to bring the sunshine to this kitchen, starting with a summer favorite: bun! Before I became a vegetarian, bun was a favorite meal. Luckily I found this vegan fish sauce and had to try it.

This noodle dish is super easy to make and filled with tons of nutritious veggies. Its great as a light snack or a full meal. I used white rice vermicelli because its what my boyfriend got, but I think I'm going to try it with brown rice vermicelli from now on.


* 1 package vermicelli noodle
* Vegan "fish" sauce (recipe from The Kitchn)
* 1/2 cucumber, julienned
* 2 medium carrots, julienned
* 1 bushel romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
* 1/2 cup bean sprouts
* 1/4 cup crushed peanuts
* 2 tablespoons cilantro (use mint and/or basil if you prefer)
* 6 oz firm tofu (optional)
* 1 tablespoon sesame oil, for frying tofu (optional)


1. Cook vermicelli noodles according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water. Drain again.
Carefully wrap tofu block in paper towels and press lightly to drain water. Cut tofu into roughly 1 inch cubes.
2. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Place tofu cubes in pan and fry lightly on each side until just beginning to brown, then remove from heat.
3. Once noodles have cooled, toss together all ingredients, including fried tofu. Enjoy!


Friday, October 29, 2010

Crispy Kale Chips: Have You Been Getting Your Fiber?

... or vitamin A, or vitamin C, or calcium, or beta-carotene, or antioxidants?

If not, no need to worry, you can fulfill all your needs with one delicious green veggie: all hail Kale the king.

Personally I love kale in all its forms, raw, sauteed, or my personal favorite, baked! If you're thinking of reaching for a bag of potato chips, think again and go for the kale. The best part of kale chips is that even if you don't like kale normally (I know some people think its somewhat bitter raw), you can decorate it up however you like it. For example, my easy peasy recipe below for kale chips brings out a lovely sweetness in the green veg with all that crunch you crave in a late night snack.

Crispy Kale Chips


* 1/2 a bundle fresh kale (go organic if possible)
* 1/4 cup good white balsamic vinegar
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 teaspoon raw pink himalayan salt (or sea salt if you prefer)


1. Heat oven to 400 F. Wash kale leaves. Use a sharp knife and cut the kale leaves from the stems. Cut up the remaining leaves into about 2 x 2 inch squares. This is just an estimate of course--no need to actually cut out equal squares--so they'll cook at the same rate. Feel free to choose any size you like though.
2. In a large bowl, kale leaves, vinegar, oil, and salt. Toss VERY well; this may take some more hands on to make sure all of the leaves are coated (make sure to cover all the crevices).
3. Place kale leaves on baking sheeting and spread them out in a single layer. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until they are crispy but not yet browning. Once they begin to brown they start to taste more bitter so check them careful.
4. Enjoy your guilt free snack!

The secret, of course, to these crispy bites is the white balsamic vinegar: gives it a great flavor without the extreme sweetness of regular balsamic vinegar. I got this one from the London Wine & Cheese festival. The cheese was less than optimal but the organic, vegan wines, fresh bread, and olive oil selection was marvelous!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fluffy Pumpkin Cookies

So I figured before Halloween rolled around I had to update at least one pumpkin recipe. I have no costume yet to speak of (with events beginning tomorrow night!) but I've had plenty of pumpkin to occupy the mind.

These cookies are perfect if you're looking for something not too sweet, but light and flurry. These little pillowy gems have a spongy texture--a perfect comfort food with an eye towards health. My favorite part of these cookies is the substituted coconut oil! Raw Virgin Coconut Oil is my new favorite ingredient, even outside of the culinary sphere (best facial moisturizer yet and lovely for your hair). This recipe is adapted from here.


  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup vegan white sugar (or turbinado)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cornstarch "egg" (mix 1 tablespoon cornstarch + 1 tablespoon water)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, coconut oil, and cornstarch "egg". In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, and salt. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Add in vanilla and chocolate chips.
  3. Shape and flatten dough (about a tablespoon's worth) on parchment paper lined cookie sheet with at least 2 inches between--these cookies spread some! Be warned, this mixture is a bit sticky and hard to handle, but a little water on your hands will help do the trick. If your mixture is not sticky enough, add a bit more flour.
  4. Bake cookies at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown and firm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Healthy Vegan Hedgehogs

For my Birthday, my lovely boyfriend made me a veganized, healthier version of this one of his favorite desserts: Hedgehogs. Supposedly they are of German origin, but I can't seem to confirm either way. If anyone knows, drop me a line.
Here is the recipe for these bite-sized treats. They are the perfect dessert because they are filled with heart-healthy walnuts and medicinal dates, a great energy booster. Plus, you can eat more than one of these without feeling sugar sick since dates are already quite sweet, it only requires a minimal amount of extra sugar.


1 1/2 cups crushed walnuts
1 cup dates
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 unsweetened shredded coconut


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking pan with non-stick parchment paper
2. Place shredded coconut in a small bowl.
3. Make sure walnuts are crushed are finely crushed, but not powdery. Mix walnuts, dates, brown sugar, cornstarch mixture, and vanilla in large bowl together. The resulting mixture will be quite sticky so mixing with your heads is best. (I put a small bit of water on my hands to keep mixture from sticking).
4. Take about a tablespoon of the mixture and roll it out into a 3 inch long log. (Feel free to choose any shape you like however, round balls or shorter logs works as well).
5. Roll log in shredded coconut and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all the mixture is used up. You can space logs relatively close together since they do not expand in baking.
6. Please baking sheet in oven and bake for about 10 minutes or until the coconut is just beginning to brown. Enjoy!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where Foodies Fall in Love

Ask any London foodie where they do their shopping and the answer is always, unequivocally, at a market. London's open-air markets are a spectacle for sure. With everything from vintage clothing to flower markets, there is something for everyone. For me, of course, my first stop would be Borough Market, one of London's best food markets. On a surprisingly warm Thursday afternoon we ventured, hungry and ready to explore--here are some of the finds:

First stall we came by, homemade veggie burgers! Yes, on the right track.
Fresh Olive Oil Loaf Focaccia
Cutest pineapples on a stick ever!
Ministry of Pie, Veggie & Bean... yummm!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A British Tea Party

Its hardly a secret that the British are known the world around for their love of tea. In fact, the United Kingdom Tea Council website lists the amount of tea consumed each day in the UK as over 150 million cups! (Yes, there is in fact an actual UK Tea Council...)

So being in the land of tea, it was only a matter of time before I were to indulge in it's great pleasures; in fact, it was about two days in at my first meeting with the UCL psychology department, complete with a large assortment of British biscuits and tea!

We got the run down on the good, the bad, and the ugly. The typical British tea served is black, Garibaldi's are the worst, the chocolate digestives are the best, and guess what, the Bourbon Creams from Sainsbury are vegan! Now this was a tradition I could get used to. (Though, I'll admit, I prefer to dip my biscuits in hot coffee instead of tea, but that leaves the tea crumb free for drinking purposes).

After about three or so of these spontaneous tea parties, I decided it was time to try out some afternoon tea in the city: I ended up at Yumchaa in London's vibrant Soho, laptop and books in hand.

The first thing you notice upon entering is its quaint Victorian era decor: adorned with long oak tables and pristine white walls, it smells deliciously of hot tea and sugary cakes. My favorite part about Yumchaa is their devoting to practicality: no tea bags to speak of (a clear violation against devoted tea drinkers) and about 30 espresso cups lined out for smelling each of the numerous teas. The variety of flavors was almost over whelming, being swayed by everything from Russian Carmel to Sweet Chili; I ended up going with a green tea, Wanderlust.

The tea was served in traditional British style in a large white tea pot over a large white cup; not a bad deal, for just over two pounds you get a full pot which fills 2 cups--this was more than certainly more than enough to share. Putting aside the strainer, I allowed the soft aromas to fill the air and took a sip: it was a subtle green tea flavor (not bitter as many our), flowery, and with a hint of star-anise.

The best part about Yumchaa--besides the free wifi--? Many vegetarian, and even a few vegan options. If you're in the London area and looking for a great places to stop and chat with some top quality tea, you should definetly check in at Yumchaa!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Study Sweets: 3-Minute Brain Boosting Cookie

Now I'm not usually one to microwavable meals, but this recipe was made for Harvard students who are looking for something a little healthier to satisfy a sweet tooth than the dining service's Chocolate Cupcakes and Apple Pie (both of which are not vegan).

However, I think this recipe is also great if you are busy and get a craving a comforting and delectable treat; a good alternative to simply grabbing a box of Oreo's (also vegan). Plus, this cookie is filled with brain boosting, energy enhancing goodies including banana, oats, and peanut butter.


· 1 cereal bowl, 1 fork, 1 tablespoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 coffee mug

· Mug full of rolled oats

· Splash of soy milk

· Teaspoon of brown sugar

· Tablespoon of peanut butter

· Handful of raisins (I used dark chocolate chips in mine, shh)

· Small banana, very ripe

· Teaspoon of maple syrup (optional but suggested)


1. Place unpeeled banana in cereal bowl and smash thoroughly with the fork until creamy
2. Place all other ingredients in bowl with banana; mix well (the mixture should not be liquidy, add more oats if necessary)
3. Microwave on high for about 1 minute or until mixture is firm and chewy. Enjoy!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Cow Cakey Peanut Butter Cookies

Edit: Just another reason to try these bad boys out, just found out they won the DailyMeal + Flour Bakery Contest! Now to try to veganize the free Flour Bakery Cookbook they sent me... :)

Christmas was always my favorite time of year as a child. Not because of the presents--no, the best part of Christmas came in the days before, where my mum, my aunt, and I would get together and make tons of cookies all day! This is my (loose) rendition of the peanut-butter chocolate chip cookies we made, veganized! They cookies have a cakey texture, but are nice a crispy on the outside (whipping the margarine with sugar is key!) Cornstarch is the perfect binder in this recipe.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons vegan non-hydrogenated margarine (Earth Balance)
  • 3/4 cup vegan granulated sugar (or turbinado sugar)
  • 1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch, mixed with 1 tablespoon water (mix only right before usage)
  • 2 cups (about 12 ounces) vegan chocolate chips
  • A good dollop of peanut butter, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the margarine with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. (If you do not have electric mixed, beat well with whisk by hand). Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and cornstarch mixture. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and peanut butter.
  2. Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. Bake until cookies are golden around the edges and set in the center, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Ugly Side of Food: A Quick US/UK Comparisons

High Fructose Corn Syrup, mechanically separated chicken, partially hydrogenated soybean oil: it’s the ugly side of food, the side we wish not to see, but it’s still there, too hard to ignore. It may not be until you live in another country that you can really conceptualize how bad the problem in America is, how we are a nation that supports and allows for processed, unnatural, nutritionally-lacking food to flood our markets. Here’s just a few interesting things I’ve noticed so far while abroad in the UK:

1. Heintz Ketchup and Coca-Cola soda, to name a few, do not need high fructose corn syrup, unlike their American counterpart

2. The American McDonalds is actually much worse for you than the UK McDonalds (and even in the UK McDonalds is looked up as a junky treat)

a. US chicken nuggets contain dimethylpolysiloxane (a chemical used in making silly putty) and tertiary butylhydroquinone (a petro-based chemical). A kid's size serving of chicken nuggets, four nuggets, have 3 more grams of fat and 20 more calories than the UK counterpart.

b. The UK McDonalds uses all free-range chicken eggs (a proposal which American McDonalds has publically opposed), and organic milk.

3. Animal welfare standards in the UK, in-so-far as they are related to food products, are clearly a more prominent issue: labels based on RSPCA welfare standards are clearly marked on numerous items that are available in any local grocery store

4. American's lunch system is often times in such despair, that it takes a British chef--see Jamie Oliver and recent interviews--to come over seas to reform school lunches.

These are just a few of the examples that I have personally witness while abroad; and so, it may not be any surprise that British men and women, on average, tend to be much healthier, live longer, and are less prone to diseases (everything from high blood pressure to diabetes) than similar American counterparts.

As bleak as such a comparison may sound, it truly illuminates what needs to happen in the future: as Oliver notes about the state of American food policy, “In America, what hasn't happened yet is the public haven't really told business what they want”. And its true. What needs to happen is a large scale public movement for a change in food policy, and it starts with the vote for change each of us makes every time be buy something at a grocery store.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Fourth of July Tapas Party

Black & Green Olive Tapanade w/ Roasted Garlic on Melba Toast

One of the best things about being home for the summer was having access to a fully stocked, recently remodeled kitchen. Using the new convection oven was epic and always having the grill by my side was something I began to take for granted. Of course then, any opportunity to utilize the beautiful new kitchen I took. In particular, my parents dinner parties were a favorite time to try out some new recipes.

Here's a look at a few other tapas dishes from our Fourth of July Party:

Sauteed Spinach w/ Caramelized Onion in Puff Pastry

Grilled Eggplant Baba Ghanoush

Spicy Hummus w/ Chickpeas and Cayenne

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Rise of the Veg Community

So I have to say that in the almost 7 years I've been a vegetarian/vegan, I have yet to notice such a peaking interest among so many varied people as now. More than ever, vegan options are popping up on menus, student populations are advocating for Meatless Monday's, and vegetarianism in general is making the headlines multiple times a day.

Among the numerous articles I could post, this one from the Daily Princeton illuminates how vegetarians are slowly creeping to outnumber the omnivorous. A change in consciousness is occurring among the youth who cannot remember the days before McDonald's and all forms of processed animals products, at a time when food, health, and the environment is more important than ever.

Another prime example is the prominence of vegan/vegetarian chefs and veg-friendly options in fine dining establishments.

Vegan Chef Chloe Coscarelli is among such, having won Food Network's cupcake wars with her Vegan Raspberry Tiramisu Cupcakes. Though I've made these luscious cupcakes twice now (pictures to come soon), I must say they are a bit sweet for my taste. Still, others have gobbled them down and the win alone is a great win for veganism.

One dish of Chloe's I did absolutely adore was hers was the Mexicali Sliders with Cajun Yam Fries! [Picture Above] I reproduced these for my family, and even my meat-eating parents asked for the recipe to make again. The texture of the sliders was just right and went perfect with a big, cold slab of fresh guacamole. I definitely suggest you try one of her recipes out! I'm going for the Beach Cookies next in an attempt to recreate Harvard's infamous (infamous to me at least!) coconut bars, yum!