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Monday, June 27, 2011

Homemade Vegan Yogurt!

Danny mentioned a few months ago that he wanted to start eating yogurt for its probiotic benefits. At nearly $2 a container, soy yogurt was not really in his daily budget. So for his birthday I bought him the Euro Cuisine Yogurt Maker (I know, not your typical gift for a 24 year old guy). It's basically a covered tray that incubates the yogurt at about 100 degrees F for 8-12 hours. The basic process is as follows: bring 40 oz. of milk to a boil, remove from heat and cool to lukewarm, whisk in 6 oz. of plain yogurt with live active cultures, pour into glass containers and incubate in yogurt maker for 8 hours. After 8 hours the yogurt had a sight curdled appearance with liquid that had accumulated on the top of each jar and the yogurt tasted very sour. We refrigerated the yogurt overnight, hoping that it would firm up a bit more and taste better once it cooled. By the next morning the yogurt had not changed, but I was determined to salvage it. I found this article on "Greek-Style Soy Yogurt" on Fat Free Vegan and gave it a try. I fitted a strainer over a bowl and placed 2 large paper coffee filters in the strainer. The I poured my homemade yogurt into the filters and set it in the fridge for about 2 hours. The result: thick and creamy Greek-style soy yogurt that tasted just like the dairy version I used to love. I prepared it in my favorite way with honey, cinnamon, raisins, dates, walnuts, and hemp seeds. The only downside is that the original 42 oz. of yogurt is reduced to about 20 oz. because the liquid "soy whey" is lost after straining. This liquid is probably very nutritious, so I will have to think of a way to use it in my cooking or baking without lending a strong sour flavor. The homemade yogurt was definitely cheaper than store bought yogurt:

32 oz. container of organic vanilla soy milk from Costco: about $1 
6 oz. Whole Soy Plain organic yogurt: $1.69
TOTAL: $2.69 (still much cheaper than the 16 oz. tubs of Greek yogurt I used to buy at around $5 each)!

I can't wait to experiment with different flavors and milks (coconut yogurt...yum!)

Other recipes I tested this week that you MUST try:

  • Chocolate Mousse Tart: Another amazing recipe from Jennifer Cornbleet's Raw Made Easy for 1 or 2 People; completely raw, vegan, and gluten-free; a crust made of walnuts, pecans, coconut flakes, dates, and sea salt; a filling made with avocado, dates, cocoa powder, carob powder, and vanilla...sounds like heaven right? 
 fresh sugar snap peas from 
my garden complete the meal!
  • Quinoa and Sprouted Bean Salad: On my recent trip to Costco I also picked up a huge bag of organic quinoa and TruRoots Organic Sprouted Bean Trio and made this recipe from the TruRoots Facebook group page (I have already made my own adjustments below):
                Simply Sensational TruRoots Sprouted Bean Trio Salad
                Makes 4 to 6 servings
    • 1 1/2 cups sprouted beans, cooked according to package directions
    • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked 
    • ½ cup diced avocado
    • ¼ cup diced red onion
    • 1 clove garlic minced 
    • 2 tablespoons lime juice
    • 1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
    • ¼ teaspoon or less of chipotle chile powder, depending on heat
    • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Swiss Chard with Raisins and Pine Nuts: One of Jennifer Cornbleet's recipes...who knew swiss chard could taste so good raw? The swiss chard is marinated in lemon juice, which softens it, giving it a cooked quality. I also added some chopped almonds for extra crunch. 
  • Sprouted Wehani Rice: I sprouted Lundberg Wehani Rice in my Easy Sprout Sprouter, but cooked it over low heat for about 10 minutes because it was still a bit crunchy (sprouting definitely cuts down on the 1 hour cooking time!) I tossed in some maple syrup, olive, oil, cranberries, pepitas, and scallions. 
  • Sauteed Beet Greens: Don't throw out the leafy tops of your beets! They are super nutritious and taste like spinach or swiss chard when cooked. You can toss them raw into salads, but my beet greens were mature and thus a little bitter. I tweaked this recipe by subbing maple syrup for the sugar and adding a drop of liquid smoke in place of the bacon (I cooked the greens in a tsp. of coconut oil rather than bacon grease). 
This is my first summer as a CSA member and I'm loving it! I get 2 huge bags of organic local vegetables each week for just about $20 a week. You could never walk out of Whole Foods with that much for $20 (and most of it wouldn't be local!) I've been eating so many more vegetables than I usually do, and the variety each week allows me to try new recipes. Last week I got a surprise from my CSA...a pint of strawberries! Apparently the weather has caused a "bad season" for the strawberry crop on Long Island, but these were seriously the best strawberries I've ever had! Aside from joining a CSA, I recently found these articles on ways to save money eating organic and vegan:

Curing fresh olives from my aunt's farm in Sicily
...a treat from my dad's recent trip to Italy

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Good News (And A Long Awaited Update!)

So the good news is....I got into the graduate program in nutrition at Hunter College! I will be starting this fall at the brand new public health campus in East Harlem (a 2 hour trek from my house, but the facilities will be greatly improved). I am currently taking a nutrition 101 level course at Hunter in Manhattan this summer. It's the last prerequisite course I need for the masters program, but most of the information is review for me, so I have an A+ at the moment.

The bad news is...well there really is none, aside from the fact that I haven't updated in 2 months! I was busy studying for finals in May, and I just got back from an 11-day trip to London with my boyfriend a few weeks ago. The trip was great: we saw more sights than humanely possible in 11 days, took thousands of photos (which I have yet to upload to Picasa), and tried some amazing vegan food. We initially had trouble locating places to eat in the "most vegan-friendly city in the world," but once we learned our way around we found some really great vegan and raw cuisine restaurants.

The incredible raw food we tried in London as well as the abundance of fresh veggies I've been getting from my CSA and garden this spring have inspired me to add more raw/living foods to my diet as well. I recently read Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Diet and became interested in her healthy and positive way of eating and living. Kris Carr is only in her 30's but has survived cancer by trading her standard American diet for a high-raw vegan lifestyle, complete with green juices, yoga, and meditation. Her book is written for everyone, not just for cancer patients, and it discusses a lifestyle, not a "diet." Here are some of the things I've been reading and trying since discovering the Crazy Sexy Diet:

  • Juicing - I got hooked on juices at the new Organic Corner health market and juice bar; I bought my own Breville juicer for a great price on Craigslist; I also read The Wheatgrass Book by the "the mother of living foods," Ann Wigmore. 
  • Sprouting - I bought an Easy Sprout Sprouter and have been watching instructional videos on Sprout People to learn how to sprout different grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. I have tried lentils, sunflower seeds, and walnuts with great success using my new sprouter. 
  • Raw/Living Foods - I was always turned off to raw foods because of the expensive equipment needed to prep the food (VitaMix blenders, powerful food processors, dehydrators, spiralizers, etc.). I recently ordered Jennifer Cornbleet's cookbook Raw Food Made Easy for 1 or 2 People, and the only equipment required is a basic food processor and blender. I have been able to make some really great recipes so far using only my mom's ancient La Machine and my Tribest blender. Since no cooking is involved, I have been able to prepare meals faster as well. 
Aged cashew cheese with flax crackers 
from Saf restaurant in London

Raw nachos with guacamole, salsa, and hummus 
and a root veggie and goji berry salad with lemon and maca dressing 
from Inspiral Lounge in London

My raw marinated cremini mushrooms 
stuffed with a sunflower seed and sundried tomato herb pate

I will elaborate on all of these things in future posts, because there are so many health benefits of juicing, sprouting, and raw foods. I am still including cooked foods in my diet though, because they have their nutritional benefits as well!