Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pineapple Coco Balls

My friend Jodi has decided to jump on the bandwagon and try this vegan lifestyle but she said I had to come up with some kind of sweets. So I put together a combination from a few raw vegan dessert techniques to come up with these satisfying Chocolate Pineapple Balls. They are the perfect little popper when you need to have something a little sweet! So Jodi - this is for you.
1 1/2 Cups Almonds
1/2 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Vanilla Bean, Scraped
1 1/2 Cups Dried Pineapple, Chopped (unsweetened no sulfites)
1 1/2 Cups Pitted Dates
1/4 Cup Shredded Coconut (unsweetened and dried)
1 Tablespoon Carob Powder
In a food processor, process the almonds, salt and vanilla. Process into a fine powder first. Add the chopped pineapple, dates and carob powder. Mix well.
Transfer mixture to a large bowl and using a small scoop, portion out some and roll between your palms to form a ball. Repeat until all is rolled out and refrigerate.
Optional: You can roll in the coconut as a garnish if you prefer.
This will keep for over a week in the refrigerator. Perfect for a quick snack or with breakfast.
Carob Powder - Can be found in the baking isles of most grocery stores or health food stores. It is fromt he dried pulp of the finest mediterranean carob beans. Carob helps digestion and lowers cholesterol in the blood. Carob also fights against osteoporsis due it's richness in calcium. It's used as a substitute for chocolate in baking and contains no chocolate, cocoa, added sugar or caffine.
Dried Pineapples - Sulfites is used as a preservative in dried fruits. Finding dried pineapple that contains no sulfites is usually organic and without sweetners it's a healthier option since pineapple is naturally sweet. Pineapples have a digestive healing property and are loaded with vitamin C, trace mineral maganese and thiamin (vitamin B1) for energy and antioxidant defenses.
Coconuts - A superfood and helps to cure cancer, AIDS, baldness, weight loss, digestive problems, diabetes and contain antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Official....I'm definately Going Vegan!

For the past 2 weeks I have been vegan and it wasn't difficult. I transitioned well by starting off selecting more vegetarian foods. That kind of prepared me for easing into a vegan lifestyle. However if it wasn't for a lot of research the past few years on the vegetarian and the raw food movement, I probably wouldn't have felt too comfortable diving into it. We are programmed to eat meat. I was, I even saw animals being slaughtered as a young girl. Cloud Packing Company in Springfield, MO was my family business and we were running around on the pastures flipping cow patties and running from the cows to get back to the house. I remember going to the plant on Saturdays with my Dad and hanging out in the office with my grandmother. I would wander around the plant and it was normal to see blood and meat hanging. (Normal? - Forgive me)

But somehow we all disconnect the reality of what we are eating and we marinate that steak and throw it on the grill! At first when I decided to go vegan it was just for health reasons and the more research I do on a vegan lifestyle the ethical treatment of animals keeps popping up.

It's strange how I purchased the book Skinny Bitch about 4 years ago, read it and then put it on a shelf. I remember reading the real truth about our meat supply and somehow, some way, disconnected it once again. Except yesterday I pulled the book from my shelf and read it again last night. OMG - I don't know what the difference was between reading last night and 4 years ago, but I can't even imagine eating meat or dairy ever again!

Since I've been vegan, I don't have any cravings anymore. That is the strangest thing of all. I don't want a hamburger or french fries, I don't want anything bad for me. It's like my body is reprogramming. I am perfectly satisfied with good food and only putting something in my body that is going to be a positive impact on my system.

If you are wanting to learn more about becoming a vegan, go to this website and watch this video. WARNING - IT IS VERY DISTURBING......But I think it is so powerful that anyone who is wanting to embrace the vegan lifestyle and feed their bodies with food that is good and full of vitamins and minerals by consuming more vegetables, fruits, nuts and wholegrains then you need to also understand what meat and dairy does to your body.

I am living proof that that crap is not good for you. And I am making a change for a better life - A Twist of Life! I hope you do too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Soy Chorizo Scramble

Now that I'm not eating eggs I need to find ways to make breakfast interesting so I make sure I have a balanced meal at least 3 times a day. I used to love chorizo and when I found a soy based chorizo I was so excited. Using extra firm tofu allows you to have a scramble but without the eggs. So here is a quick scramble you can have with no cholesterol or animal products.

Soy Chorizo Scramble

1 Unit Extra Firm Tofu, Drained and Pat Dry

3 Tablespoons Soy Chorizo

1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

In a saute pan over medium high heat, melt coconut oil and add the soy chorizo breaking it up to season the oil. Add the extra firm tofu and break it up scrambling it around incorporating the soy chorizo. It will take approximately 3-5 minutes to get it mixed up well and cooked up a little bit.

I like to serve my scramble with sliced avocados, red onions and cilantro. Toast up some sunflower seed bread and it's a full healthy breakfast in just a few short minutes.

Sunflower Seeds: Helps treat asthma, may help reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Avocados: Provides at least 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamin E, and folic acid.

Red Onion: High in fiber and vitamin C

Tofu: High in protein and with no cholesterol

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Falafel & Grilled Vegetables w/Tahini Dressing

Now that I've been eating vegetarian for the past 4 weeks, I'm starting to transition to more of a vegan diet. I knew this would happen. The process to be vegetarian wasn't that difficult for me. I just started thinking of items I would eat and omit the meat. Now I'm not eating any cheese or dairy products and have noticed my sinus headaches have gone away. Very interesting....I've heard that dairy causes sinus issues and I didn't think I was affected by it.

Some of my friends are wondering what I'm eating outside of salads and just vegetables. So tonight I decided share with you all how to make a falafel sandwich and add some grilled vegetables. My version of falafels aren't loaded with parsley but have a few more items to make it a little more flavorful. I find that too much parsley makes it lose it's taste. I whipped up some tahini dressing to drizzle on it.

1 Can Chickpeas, Drained
1 Garlic Clove
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/8 Teapsoon Chayenne Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds, Whole
1/2 Teaspoon Corriander Seeds, Whole
2 Tablespoons Sundried Tomatoes (Packed in oil - drained)
1/4 Cup Cilantro, Fresh
1 Tablespoon Tahini (Sesame Paste)

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process together until mixture becomes a thick paste. Remove from processor bowl and take a large spoon and scoop some out and form a ball, then flatten to a small patty. Spray each side of the patty with Olive Oil. Repeat until all of the mixture is formed into patties.

In a non-stick saute pan over medium high heat, spray with Olive Oil and place falafel patties in saute pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned on each side. Remove and transfer to a plate lined with a papertowel to cool.
Vegetable Kabobs
1/2 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Green Bell Pepper
1/2 Red Onion
1 Zucchini
1 Portabello Mushroom
Wooden Skewers

Soak wooden skewers in water for at least 4 hours to keep from burning on the grill. Cut vegetables in chunks and skewer close together alternating vegetables.

Spray vegetables with Olive Oil add sea salt and cracked fresh black pepper.

Preheat grill to 350 degrees and place vegetable kabobs on grill cooking for approximately 5 minutes on each side. Be careful not to burn the vegetables. Flip and grill on all sides.

Tahini Dressing
1/4 Cup Tahini Paste (Ground Sesame Seeds)
1/4 Cup Water
1/2 Lemon, Fresh Squeezed
Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together until throughly incorporated. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.

How to Assemble:

Spray both sides of a Whole Wheat Flatbread with Olive Oil and place on grill to lightly toast. Lay flatbread out and on one side add some Grilled Vegetables, 2 Falafel Patties, fresh Baby Spinach and Drizzle with Tahini Paste.

This easy dinner is very filling and packed with vitamins and protein.

Red Bell Peppers: Packed with Vitamin A, B6, and C (more vitamin C than an orange), folic acid
Portobella Mushrooms: Vitamins B6, Magnesium, Folate, Maganese, Potassium, Niacin and Fiber
Red Onions: Vitamins B6 and C, Fiber and Organosulfur which helps regulate blood pressure.
Zucchini: Thiamin, Niacin, Potassium, Vitamins A, B6 and C.
Chickpeas: Folate and Protein
Cilantro: Helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), richest source for Vitamin K
Sesame Seeds: Oldest condiment known to man dating back to early 1600BC, rich in minerals such as Cooper, Magnesium and Calcium.

Add Image

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Nutty Granola & Coconut Milk

I love crunchy nutty granola and I've finally nailed down a great recipe that is loaded with nuts and seeds. I've replaced the butter with extra virgin coconut oil and added a few spices to give it a really great depth of flavor.

This granola is great to dip bananas in as a snack, top your pancakes in the morning or simply eat with coconut milk. Turtle Mountain makes incredible dairy free milk and ice cream using coconut milk. I love it more than regular milk and it's loaded with vitamins and oh so good for you! No cholesterol, excellent source of B12, Vegan, no trans fats, gluten free, rich in medium chain fatty acids, soy free and dairy free. The ice cream is to die for which I was sad to think I would have to give up ice cream until I discovered this little gem. The chocolate is my favorite!

Nutty Granola

4 1/2 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 Cup Almonds, Slivered
1 Cup Sunflower Seeds
1 Cup Walnuts
1/2 Cup Flax Seeds
1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds
2/3 Cup Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Melted
1/2 Cup Whole Cane Sugar, Organic
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon, Fresh Ground
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice, Fresh Ground
1/4 Teaspoon Cloves, Fresh Ground
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt, Course Ground

Mix all ingredients together making sure that all is incorporated and the coconut oil coats the pieces. Spread out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then bake in a 300 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes. Watch it to make sure the nuts do not burn. Let the granola cool completely and put in an airtight container.
Healing Properties:
Cinnamon - Helps blood sugar levels
Allspice - Effective digestive aid
Cloves - Helps to prevent digestive tract cancers and treat joint inflamation
Sunflower Seeds - Excellent Source of Vitamin E
Flax Seeds - High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Fiber
Walnuts - Fiber, Vitamin B and E, Magnesium, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and helps lower LDL cholesterol
Oats - High in fiber, helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar
This kind of morning cereal is so much more powerful to your system than a boxed variety. Make a big batch and watch what happens to your body!

Mexican Fruit Salad & Flaxseed Toast Breakfast

Eating healthy in the morning doesn't have to consist of oatmeal and juice. Since I'm trying to get my thyroid regulated naturally, I'm trying to consume more extra virgin coconut oil which is a miracle food. Check out this website for more information
So the best way is to consume at least 3 tablespoons of coconut oil daily by using it as a cooking oil and simply adding to your food instead of using butter. Which now that I am trying to be vegan these days it's a wonderful addition to my pantry and since it helps regulate the metabolism I'm excited to see that is starting to work. It's also a relief to be able to have healthy fats in my diet without feeling deprived.

I really enjoy toasting some flax seed bread that is loaded with Omega 3. Spread on some coconut oil and sprinkle with a little sea salt. My favorite way to eat fruit is to dice it up and squeeze fresh lime juice on it with a sprinkle of chili pepper. The sweet and sour notes are so satisfying and much more fun that peeling an apple or orange. I usually use fresh mango, nectarines, pineapple, strawberry or kiwi. It really depends on what is fresh at the market that week.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cremini Mushroom, Caramelized Shallots and Goat Cheese Pizza

Cremini Mushrooms (baby portabellas) are an excellent source of selenium. Selenium is a powerful anti-cancer fighting ingredient. Especially lowering the risk of prostate cancer.

Mushrooms are also an unrecognized source of potassium which is an element that helps lower blood pressure. Did you know that a 3 oz portion of portabella mushrooms provide more potassium than an orange or banana? Here's a simple recipe that is fulfilling and a snap to prepare:

1 lb Cremini Mushrooms, Sliced

1 Small Shallot, Sliced Thin

2 Tablespoons Virgin Coconut Oil

Pinch of Dried Thyme

1/4 Cup Sherry Wine

1/8 Tsp Sea Salt

Fresh Cracked Black Pepper

Whole Wheat Flat Bread

Olive Oil Spray

1 oz Goat Cheese

4 oz Fresh Baby Arugula

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Sherry Vinegar

In a saute pan, melt coconut oil and saute sliced shallots until softend. Add cremini mushrooms and dried thyme and saute until wilted and tender.

Add the sherry wine and cook the liquid out. Add sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Spray Olive Oil on the top of the whole wheat flatbread and sprinkle a little sea salt and cracked black pepper on top. In a 375 degree oven or on the gas grill warm the flatbread for about 5 minutes.

Then add the mushrooms and shallots on top of the flatbread and crumble goat cheese on top. Heat in oven until goat cheese begins to melt and flat bread is crisp.

In a small bowl add the baby arugula and toss with extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

Slice pizza and serve with arugula salad.

Arugula - There are a number of nutrients in arugula - arugula greens provide an absorbable source of calcium, iron, manganese, copper and potassium. Good source of vitamin A, C and K and folic acid. Folic Acid helps form red blood cells just like B12. Folic Acid helps play the role in cardiovascular health which may help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hearty Fast Vegan Dinner

Some nights you just want to get home, kick off your shoes and chill without having to hassle with too much prep for dinner while trying to remain on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Tonight was one of those nights and if you pick up these 3 items and have them ready for that kind of night, your in for a treat!

Deboles makes a nice organic handmade pasta that is made from artichoke flour and whole wheat. It is a rich source of protein and dietary fiber as compared to traditional pasta, Jerusalem artichoke flour naturally contains inulin, a prebiotic that stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system track that aids in digestion and lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.

Mezzetta makes a great line of pasta sauces that are all natural and are a great trick when you are in pinch and need a sauce without the hassle and preservatives. I love the Artichoke Marinara. Add some to a pot, add a little pinch of dried thyme and dump in some soy meatballs. Simmer for 20 minutes on low and serve with the whole wheat artichoke flour pasta.
These meatballs are so good, my son likes them better than real meat and it's good for you without adding animal products to your meal. You can even use the left overs as a meatball sandwich in a whole wheat hoagie and soy cheese!
These soy meatballs are 13g of protein, no MSG, no cholesterol, no trans fat, excellent source of fiber and calcium. Give them a try, you won't be disapointed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Purple Taco & Nut Meat?

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm trying to fall into this vegetarian lifestyle with ease. So when I got a craving for lunch and didn't want the normal salad or stir fry, I turned to a raw vegan recipe that hits the spot and is packed with nutrients. Purple cabbage leaves filled with baby spinach, chopped green onions, cilantro and nut meat.
Nut meat? I'm sure some of you are wondering what nut meat is and I'm here to tell you that this is a fantastic alternative to soy and meat. Chopped raw almonds and walnuts are combined with spices to make a faux meat filling. It has a wonderful flavor packed punch and gives you the filling of something substantial when consuming raw vegetables which sometimes seem to leave you feeling hungry right after you ate.
1/2 Cup Whole Almonds, Raw
1/2 Cup Whole Walnuts, Raw
1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/8 Teaspoon Chayenne Pepper
2 Tablepsoon Sundried Tomatoes (packed in oil)
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil (not OVOO)
1 Teaspoon Braggs Amino (Soy Sauce Alternative)
Put all ingredients in the food processor and give it a whirl. Process until then nuts form a course paste.
To assemble the cabbage tacos:
Remove the leaves from a red cabbage head
Cut out the touch pieces in the middle if it's too difficult to fold
Add baby spinach, chopped green onions and fresh cilantro. Fill with nut meat and enjoy!
Super Power Packed Lunch - No Carbs and full of flavor!

Healing Properties:
Purple Cabbage - 36 Cancer Fighting properties and loaded with Vitamin C
Spinach - Fiber rich, Vitaman A, B and C, Potassium and Calcium
Cilantro - Lowers Cholesterol, when mixed with Omega 3's like nuts it magnifies the power to heal viral and bacterial infections
Almonds - Vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and potassium
Walnuts - Mineral rich in maganese that helps support brain function, support liver function and cure heart disease.
Cumin - Helps the digestive system, eliminate urinary track issues and support the immune system.

Becoming a Vegetarian

This blog was a brain child of someone who loves to eat wonderful food and over the past 10 years my weight and health has been compromised in the process. Four years ago my father suffered a terrible battle with throat cancer and watching the recent stories flooding the airways on Michael Douglas brought back a whale of tears and sadness for him as I know he will be fighting for his life to recover from this terrible sickness.

Recently I was hospitalized for high blood pressure and a rapid heart beat that made me feel like passing out. Although five years ago I experienced a similar episode and was put into intenstive care for a pace maker installation, I still hadn't made the change to a completely healthier lifestyle. It was really crazy to think that someone who had always had a very healthy life developed a heart disease in just a few years. Over the past five years I still didn't do much about making a change to my diet and still consumed meats, alcohol and a variety of high fat and calorie meals. See my problem is that I love food and I don't mean eating, I love all kinds of food, how to cook it, how to combine flavors together, dining with friends, everything that has to do with food, I love. I'm an operations manger for a successful catering and gourmet to go retailer and I am around food 24/7. So going on a diet and depriving myself has been something that I didn't want to experience. I've had enough deprivation through failed relationships and I found comfort in great food. However I didn't realize that I had issues... for lack of a better word, abandonment issues.

So now I need a new lease on life and I have been researching the raw food diet, vegan diets and vegetarian lifestyles for a while now and have been facinated with how food is prepared with raw ingredients and how more and more people are jumping on this food revolution. For some reason I am at a place where I feel the need to make the change, finally. It was strange, it was like a light went off and I decided that eating meat wasn't appealing to me. It's not a political view and I'm not going around saying that I don't eat anyting with eyes, it's just that I don't feel like my body is processing flesh from animals too well. Plus that sounds like of gross when you think about it. So I have slowly vowed to start eliminating animal flesh from my diet. And I have to say, I feel really good, more alert, and a little spring in my step that I haven't had in a long while. I'm staying up later and sleeping really well, which is something I have been fighting for a few years.

Not eating meat is kind of strange for girl whose family owned a meat packing plant. I remember going to the plant with my father while he worked on Saturdays and it was normal to see cows being slaughtered. I grew up on red meat and it wasn't until my parents divorced that I started eating a lot of chicken and processed foods from a box. But now days it's all over the news how organic is better and eating foods more in their whole form is the best way to gain back your health. I recently did some cookbook testing for Carrie Vitt who is putting out a really nice cookbook on organic cooking. It really made me think, how easy it is to transition to more organic ingredients and also shift to more vegetables. So, I am going to go vegetarian for 3o days to see how my body responds and then after that time if I feel that I want to take the plung into the world of a vegan, I will do it. Cutting all dairy such as cheese and yogurt is a little hard for me to process but I have a feeling after these 30 days I just might change my mind.

This blog was intended to be a blog of information about food, how each natural form of food has a specific purpose to nourish our bodies. So I guess now this blog will have a deeper meaning and will speak as a journal on my quest for a better life.
A twist of life....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sweet Mango

Its the end of summer and the heat is starting to lighten up a bit this weekend. The windows are open and my son and the dogs are finally enjoying the outdoors again.

Its a perfect evening for something light and refreshing for dinner tonight. The grill is heating up and I'm making the perfect summer salad to go with my Teriyaki Portabella Burger.

I've been trying to lower my blood pressure and have vowed to only eat meat once a week and incorporate more fruits and vegetables in my diet daily. So this week has been a complete transformation with the way that usually eat...and I have to say, I feel great this week.

Since I wanted a light menu. I marinated a portabella mushroom in sesame oil, pineapple juice, lemongrass, ginger, soy sauce and scallions. I then reserved some of the juice to baste the portabella with during the grilling process. Grilled a fresh pineapple ring to garnish and viola. Teriyaki Portabella Burgers. Making my own sauce teryaki sauce helps control the amount of salt and the preservatives which is really important when watching the amount of sodium and additives in bottled varieties.

The other day I picked up some mangos at the market and they were still a little firm, so I put them in a basket on the counter for a few days and today they are perfectly ripe and sweet. So I decided to make a summer evening salad with avocado, mango, cilantro, chili and lime. It's so incredible and the flavors pop with the chili and lime. Give it a's really a treat.

Mangos are packed with vitamins...Here's the rundown of these juicy jewels:

Mangoes contain phenols, this phenolic compound has powerful antioxidant and anticancer abilities.

They are high in iron, pregnant women and people with anemia are encouraged to eat mangos regularly.

Mangos are effective in relieving clogged pours of the skin, combat acidity and poor digestion.

They are high in antioxidants and low in carbohydrates.

Mangos are a rich source of vitamin A (beta-carotene), E and Selenium which will help to protect against heart disease and other ailments.

So you can see, incorporating mangos in your diet is essential in many ways.

Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend...Enjoy the outdoors.