Monday, November 15, 2010

Its been awhile

Okay ill admit it, i've taken a bit of a hiatus from cooking lately. I've just been so busy! I haven't had much time to get creative in the kitchen.

This weekend I found myself in need of some deep nutrition. Maybe it was the San Francisco trip, maybe it was the time change - whatever it was- I was in bed by 9 most of the week, and even though I was getting some SERIOUS amounts of sleep, I had trouble getting out of bed and throughout the day I felt like I was in a fog.

I started taking some new vitamins - Isotonix- and they seem to be giving me a little more pep in my step. But I thought back to a meal that left me feeling completely nourished, not just full- and the first thing that came to mind was Life Alive. Since I was tired on Friday, and didnt feel like making the 20 minute drive, I decided to try and re-create a dish at home.

It was a success!!

Life Alive Creation

1 head broccoli - cut into tiny florets
1/2 head of kale- stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 block of smoked tofu- cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup uncooked short grain brown rice ( you can use your fav. rice here)
2 cups water
Your favorite gingery dressing ( I like Makoto)

Bring water to a boil, add rice and reduce to simmer. Simmer until all water is absorbed. The vegetables are all steamed -(kale takes the longest so add it in first) Steam Kale for about 15 minutes, then add broccoli and carrots until finished (about 10 more minutes)

Put rice in large shallow bowl, top with steamed veggie mixture, add tofu, and cover all in the ginger dressing. Serve piping hot! Serves 2

Get ready for your body to thank you.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NE Vegan goes to SF

I'm freshly back from a quick trip to San Francisco. What a fun city! I couldn't get over the hills in the middle of the city, and the Victorian architecture was amazing.

First day -we headed to wine country, where I thoroughly believed I had died and gone to heaven.

We also went on an amazing bay cruise under the golden gate and around Alcatraz, and to make it even more perfect we went at sunset. Gorgeous doesn't even do it justice.

Had so much fun - can't wait to go back!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Life Alive

This weekend I found my new favorite place to eat! Life Alive in Lowell, MA!

Ive been meaning to try it for awhile, and yes Lowell isn't that far from Nashua, but for whatever reason it took me a year or so of saying I wanted to try it, to actually get down there. And of course I'm kicking myself now, wondering what the hell took me so long.

The food is unbelievably amazing, fresh, organic, and wholesome - All of my favorite things in food! The best thing is that when you leave, you are full and satisfied but also deeply nourished.

Their menu is unreal, and the whole vibe of the cafe is very warming and relaxing. In addition to the great food they have their own teas and snacks that they sell at the shop - they even make their own kombucha- which I have yet to try, but since I know how close it is now, and how delicious everything is, something tells me Ill be trying it in short order.

When I went I tried the Swami - everything on the menu was making me drool- it literally took me about a half hour to decide what I wanted. I wasn't disappointed. "Matty's Miso Curried Sauce sweetening a masterfully-tasty mix of tamari roasted almonds, flame raisins, pearl onions, dark greens, broccoli flowers, and shredded carrots, served over brown rice with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast." Amazing! Annnd- I had plenty for a little leftover the lunch the next day. I also tried the carrot cake smoothie- again after much deliberation :)

Couldn't speak more highly of this place, portions are great, atmosphere is uplifting and the food is a perfect marriage between tasty and healthy.

Check them out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

Acorn squashes are so versatile and soooo very cheap this time of year! I threw this together last night. Perfect meal for a cool fall night.

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash

2 Acorn Squashes halved ( and scooped clean of strings and seeds)
1/2 cup of Cooked Quinoa
2 large shallots chopped
1/4 cup walnuts
1 Can Vegetable broth
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil for sauteing the shallots
Vegan Sour cream
Nutritional yeast.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place acorn squash face down in large baking dish. Pour veggie broth into dish until it comes 1/2 way up the sides of the acorn. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

While squash is cooking saute the shallots and walnuts in canola oil until shallots become translucent. When finished remove from heat and add to the cooked quinoa. Also add rosemary, thyme and salt and pepper to taste.

One finished pre-baking, remove the squash from the oven and dump out remaining veggie broth. Place squash back in baking dish face up. Fill the squash halves with the quinoa mixture and drizzle with olive oil to prevent the quinoa from drying out. Cover dish with foil and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.

Let cook for a few minutes, then top with a dollop of vegan sour cream and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. And Enjoy.

Serves 4

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Pumpkin Apple Pie and Pumpkin Carving

Just coming off of one of the BEST quintessential Fall weekends ever! Spent the weekend with family, celebrating the beauty of fall and of course my Mom's Birthday!!

We kicked off the Birthday celebration with some pumpkin carving! Though I got a tad frustrated halfway through -
( Damn me for picking the stencil with 3 difficulty stars) -my pumpkin came out fabulously! And more importantly I had a great time. If anyone smashes this thing I'm going to be livid!

Following the pumpkin carving extravaganza, my mom and I made some pies with some of the fresh apples she picked earlier that weekend.

I found this recipe on the wholefoods website and converted it to my liking - vegan style!
Pumpkin Apple Pie
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon divided
1/2 teaspoon salt divided
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons smart balance
3 cups your favorite apples ( I used granny smiths)
egg replacer equivalent to one egg
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup Vanilla soymilk
1 unbaked pie shell

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Put brown sugar, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, water and smart balance into a saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Add sliced apples and cook, tossing to coat in sugar mixture about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together egg replacer, sugar, pumpkin remaining salt and cinnamon, cloves, ginger and soymilk until well combined.

Pour apple mixture into pie shell and then pour pumpkin slowly and evenly over the top. Bake for 10 mins then reduce temp to 375 degrees and bake until filling is just set in the middle, about 45 minutes more.

Remove from oven, allow to cool and chill before serving.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First (hopefully of many) Apple Picking of the Season

Last Sunday was my first apple picking excursion of the season with a couple of my closest friends. Ahhh have I mentioned this is one of my favorite favorite times of year?!

The best part about this trip? Not only is the location an apple orchard, its also a vineyard and winery. Talk about perfect day.

Yay fall and better yet, Yay Nashoba Valley in the fall!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quick and Healthy Oatmeal

Ahhh.... that cool crisp air reminds me that MY FAVORITE TIME OF YEAR IS HERE!! Judging from the look on Grady's face after our hike - its his too!

There is nothing more perfect to me than a nice sunny fall day. 65 -70 degrees during the day, cool enough to snuggle into your comforter at night! The leaves are starting to change and before you know it, ill be posting recipes for pumpkin and apple flavored everything! I wish it could always be like this! But, I'm soaking it up while its here!

One of the first things I notice when summer changes to fall is the differences in the foods that I crave. During the warmer months, I usually start my morning with some fruit, or some soy yogurt. This morning I had my first seasonal craving for oatmeal!

If you're like me, and you get weirded out by how much sugar is in one "healthy" packet of instant oatmeal - I have a solution!

Quick and Healthy Oatmeal

1/2 cup of rolled oats
enough water to cover them
1 teaspoon sucanaut
2 tablespoons of your favorite fruit sweetened preserves ( I like blueberry and raspberry)
fresh berries - optional

I throw the oats into a travel bowl with the sucanaut before I leave for work in the morning. And I keep the preserves in my work fridge. Once I get hungry I just pop the oat and sucanaut mixture with the water into the microwave and heat until the oats are done - about 1 - 1.5 mins. Then I add the fruit preserves mix all together and eat!

Its delicious - 10 times better than any packet of oatmeal i've ever made for myself ( and ill admit I LOVE the apple and cinnamon kashi) And its so much more economical than the instant oatmeal you buy at the store - especially if you buy the oats in bulk.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first hike of the season with Grady earlier last week. Can't wait for the upcoming hikes - they are sure only to get more beautiful as the leaves start to change!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A quick word on fostering.

A quick word on fostering - to anyone out there that has every considered it and I supposed also to those that haven't

DO it!

There are so many great animals out there that just need a place to stay until they find their new forever homes! The picture above is of one of my past foster dogs - Vivo.

Now known as Sammy. I had this guy for 6.5 months, which was my longest foster yet. But so amazingly worth it.

I have to say that fostering has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. You take an animal at his most needy- in Vivo's case- EXTREME need, and you can completely change the course of his life. V came to me with a torn ligament in his knee, SEVERELY overweight and had no social skills at all. Still he had a bright and congenial spirit that made him irresistible. I nurtured him through his surgeries, and taught him basic household commands. I got very attached and it was extremely difficult to let go of a dog that had become such a part of my family. But now he has a great family of his own, and I still get to see him periodically when his owners go away on vacation and he needs a spot to crash.

So to anyone who's considering it ... try it. You may be overwhelmed at first. But nothing beats knowing that you made a difference in an animals life. You never know, you could be the difference between life and death.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Help Save One - Please?!?

Sometimes I just really don't understand how people can be so cruel. It honestly embarrasses me.

Help Save One is an animal rescue organization that saves animals (mostly dogs) from high kill shelters down south, where over population is a HUGE issue. And as if that weren't heartbreaking enough - a lot of these shelters use gassing as their means of euthanasia. For those of you who aren't familiar with this practice please visit to view a video on the subject - Beware its intensely graphic. I couldn't get through it.

These poor guys are suffering from a severe case of mange, and their owner just dumped them in this state. Luckily Help Save One got the word out and raised enough money to have them vetted and pulled before it was too late.

Before you consider buying a pet from a pet store or from a breeder please consider all the wonderful potential pets that get put down EVERY day simply because there is no room for them. Some never even get a chance to be a loving member of a family.
Check out HelpSaveOne for a list of this weeks urgent dogs - these guys are among them!

Friday, August 6, 2010

I guess maybe I should start to contemplate the frequency of my postings about wine and all things alcohol related. But I won't! At least not today.

I was checking out this website today and I decided that I had to blog about it. is a great guide for finding vegan wines, beers and alcohols. I know... how can alcohol not be vegan ? It seems so strange right ? Alcohol is made from fermented grains and fruits.... but alas ... its true! A LOT of companies add animal products as finishing touches to fine tune the alcohols taste. Per barnivore's website, in the instance of one company, a whole chicken was dropped in the tank. WOOF!

Anywho, before you make your next purchase check out and see if some of your favorite wineries and distilleries are on the red list!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Thai Red Curry Tempeh and Vegetables

One of my favorite food blogs posted this recipe a few weeks ago. And I just had the chance to give it a whirl last night. This post from the blog The Veggie-Full Kitchen just looked too good not to try.

I made a few slight adjustments - I replaced the "chikin" with pan fried tempeh, added a half a tablespoon more of the red curry, used light coconut milk instead of the regular, added a bit of Thai chili sauce to give it a kick, and served it over brown basmati rice.

It was absolutely fantastic- though the picture doesn't really do it justice ( I really need to use a better camera!) I cut the recipe in half and there is more than enough leftovers if, like me, you are only cooking for one.
Thank you Veggie-Full Kitchen!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Farm Sanctuary

I often wonder - If people were more informed about the horrors of factory farming if they would actually still buy its products? A lot of companies these days are catching on that anything labeled "all natural" will sell like mad. They show commercials with images of sunlight beaming on an open pasture with cows grazing, chickens clucking away in their open coops and pigs laying by their favorite mud puddle. Often times these images couldnt be further from the truth of what the actual story is behind the slab of meat on your plate.

I was visiting ( a rescue farm for abused, neglected and abandoned livestock) this morning and this story of an adorable baby calf, named Billy, was so touching that I had to share a quick blog about him. All too often many baby male calves are either stripped away from their mothers just a few hours after birth and confined in small pens to be used as veal meat or killed all together with their throats slit or a blunt hammer hit to the head.
This guy was saved!
I love reading over their featured rescue stories. It brightens my day!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summery Italian Pasta Salad

So I just started the book Eat, Pray, Love. And I'm fully standing by my previous statement, that all books come to me at the PERFECT time in my life. This one is speaking to me in ways I couldn't have imagined.

Anyway I'm currently reading the part about her stay in Italy. Numerous times she talks about the simplicity and deliciousness of the dishes she has there. And while unfortunately shes not vegan ( and even more unfortunately, she talks of eating veal on more than one occasion) It inspired me to throw a few things together and create a simple, easy, summer Italian Pasta Dish.

Summery Italian Pasta Salad
1/2 Box Pasta of your choice - I used Cavatappi
1/2 red onion chopped
1 zucchini chopped
1/2 bunch of scallions chopped
6 oz chopped mushrooms
4 oz kalamatta olives chopped and drained ( if using jarred)
3 Tablespoons olive oil - plus more for tossing the salad
2 Teaspoons basil (fresh or dried will work) or more to taste
2 Teaspoons oregano - or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste
juice of half a lemon
1 bag of baby or regular spinach

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.

Heat olive oil in skillet. Once heated add mushrooms and onion. Saute for 5 minutes or until mushrooms and onions are slightly tender, then add zucchini, season with salt and pepper and basil to taste and saute for an addition few minutes or until all veggies are softer, but still have a slight crisp.

Remove veggies from skillet, place into large bowl and put in the fridge until they are chilled. (usually around 20 minutes) Once they are chilled toss cooked pasta with veggie mixture, and add the olives. Next add the lemon juice, oregano and more salt, pepper and basil if desired. Add another splash of olive oil and toss till well mixed.

Serve on top of spinach and top off with a few chopped scallions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fieldroast Sausage and Veggie Pasta Dish

Threw a few things in my brand new pan my Aunt got me for my birthday! Man it was a hot day for cooking.... but it came out great! It was so worth it!!

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 fieldroast brand Italian style sausages cut into bite sized rounds
1 red onion finely chopped
1 green bell pepper cut in thin strips
1 zucchini chopped
8 small mushrooms sliced
half package spinach stems removed and torn into pieces.
salt and pepper to taste
basil and oregano to taste
nutritional yeast
2/3 cup pasta sauce
1/2 lb whole wheat spaghetti

Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in deep skillet, the add onions, peppers and garlic. Saute until onions become clearish but not quite translucent.

Add the sausage and continue sauteing with pan covered for 5-7 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, you don't want the garlic to burn. Next add the zucchini and mushrooms, and continue sauteing with pan covered for an additional 5 -7 minutes, or until zucchini becomes softer. Next add the marinara sauce, turn heat down to simmer and keep pan covered for an additional 5 minutes. Next stir in spinach and cook until its wilted. Stir in oregano, basil and salt and pepper to your taste.

Place cooked spaghetti in a plate and top with the saucy sausage mixture sprinkle with nutritional yeast and serve.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Homemade Infused Vodka Cocktails

I had one of the absolute BEST cocktails ever this past weekend when I was in Boston. Cucumber vodka and lemonade - Couldn't be simpler, but couldn't taste any better! Its the perfect combination of strong, smooth and refreshing.

The cocktail I had was made with SquareOne Organic Cucumber vodka. Unfortunately for me, it proved difficult to find. And though I love me a good drink, I couldn't see myself driving 45 mins to the closest retailer.

And then my AH HA moment came!
I'm sure I could make my own! I headed down to the liquor store, picked up a bottle of plain vodka (Tenure is one of my fav bangs for the buck) and then headed to the grocery store and picked up a cucumber. I dumped the vodka into this canister , washed the cucumber, sliced it up and put them into the vodka with two small lemon peels. I let it sit for 3 days, then I put it back into the original bottle and put it in the freezer to chill.

It made the best cocktail!

Cucumber Infused Lemonade

Equal parts Cucumber Vodka and Newman's Own Organic Lemonade.
Serve in a highball glass over ice, with a slice of the marinated cucumber. I'm sure a sprig of fresh basil would be good in there as well!

Now that I know how easy it is to infuse your own vodkas I cant wait to try more variations!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Naturally Clean

Just finished re-reading the book Naturally Clean: The Seventh Generation Guide to Safe and Healthy, Non-Toxic Cleaning. This is such a well written and informative book.

It breaks down the different hazardous and often carcinogenic chemicals and toxins in most household cleaners and their linked effects on the human body, ranging from asthma to infertility. It's TERRIFYING how few chemicals have been tested by the FDA before the allowance of their use in our household products.

This book is associated with "Seventh Generation" and though I LOVE their products, they can get a tad expensive. Soooo... I decided to put together a few recipes for some of the natural household cleaners I make to clean my house.

I know a lot of people use AJAX or some other form of a bleach based cleaner to clean their tubs and sinks, here is a recipe for an alternative that requires a little elbow grease, but your hands and respiratory system will thank you.

Tub and Sink Scrub

1 cup of baking soda

1/2 cup of fine sea salt ( coarse may score your tub finish)

couple of squeezes of fresh lemon juice

Wet the surface of your tub and sink, apply baking soda mixture along with a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice and scrub with the scrubbie side of a sponge. That's all there is too it. It couldn't be cheaper or easier. Also I like to experiment with different smells. Adding a few drops of lavender oil leaves the bathroom smelling GREAT!

Glass Cleaner
Equal parts water and white vinegar added to a spray bottle

So I know this cleaner probably doesn't smell the best, but cleaning glass doesn't get more natural than this. Also cleaning the top of your counters and stove works well with this mixed with a little lemon juice.

Laundry Detergent
I also found this laundry detergent recipe on one of my favorite blogs. I have four bottles of Bi-o-kleen detergent in the basement now, but when those are done I'm going to give this a whirl! The author of the recipe (linked above) says that the peppermint version is her family's favorite smell.
2 cups (finely) grated castile soap
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda
1 cup soda ash (washing soda)

It's great to know what EXACTLY is in your cleaning products. And more than that its great to know that all of your cleaning products are really making your house clean and fresh instead of toxic. There are some great all natural household brands out there, but these substitutes are a great, affordable alternative when you're trying to pinch pennies.
Remember- just because you wash something down the drain, doesn't mean it disappears. Think about where your drain water goes and what its putting into our environment.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Chocolate Jam Muffins

No air conditioning= no sleep

Since when did air conditioning become a prerequisite for sleeping in the summertime in NH!?

Needless to say I got no sleep last night, tossed and turned literally ALL night, and finally decided to get up at 3:00. Yes, 3 AM! GRRRRR! I went downstairs, turned on the lights (GOD only knows the last time I needed to do that in the morning) and thumbed through a cook book, figuring this is the PERFECT time to cure my baking fix during this heatwave. My pantry was pretty barren, but I found a recipe requiring what little items I have left. The recipe was from How It All Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Bernard. It was their "Anything Goes" muffins. Ha! Perfect I thought- anything does go as long as I have it in my pantry. Still a little bleary eyed from the lack of sleep, I wasn't quite sure how they would turn out, but they ended up being delicious! I added some leftover vegan chocolate chips, and some blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. They were like a whole wheat chocolate jam muffin- in fact that's what I will call them! A nice breakfast treat for the sleep deprivation. Now that Ive tried the basic "anything goes" muffin recipe, ill have to experiment with more variations. ( The next sleepless night/morning I suppose)

--Here they are just cooling off, which I suppose is a relative phrase in this heat.--

What goes better with muffins and sleep deprivation in the wee morning hours than some fresh Organic Bean coffee in the French Press?
All and all, I've had worse mornings, although its 9:30 and it feels like 12:00, I feel like I have a leg up on my day. A word from the wise - When you can't sleep don't bother counting sheep, just wake up and make some muffins !