Thursday, December 28, 2017

Collard Greens and Kobocha, where have you been all my life?

I'm on a weird, super austere (vegan) diet right now, it is a 21-day "bland food" cleansing diet.  It's from the back of the Simple Recipes for Joy cookbook by Sharon Gannon, who is the founder of Jivamukti Yoga and Jivamuktea Cafe. The way it was pitched to me (during a random 15 minute pedicab ride by the driver) is that it resets your palate because there is no salt, no added sugar, and no oil. Breakfast is plain oatmeal, lunch is fresh veggies, dinner is unseasoned brown rice and lentil porridge (kitcheree) plus steamed vegetables. By the end of it you are really tasting and appreciating everything you eat. So it's kind of like a mindfulness exercise as well. I'm on day 11! 

Today I made this for dinner porridge accompaniment: 

  • Collard Greens - my grocery store has this in a bag, washed, chopped, and ready to cook! 
  • Kabocha Squash - chop it in half, then into wedges, then slice off the skin. Chop into cubes

Put the squash in a pot that has some room on top, add some water to the bottom and steam it for 10 minutes (or however long, depending on how small you chopped it). Stuff as much collard collard greens as you can on top and let all of that steam for another 5 minutes. 

Great with plain brown rice!!  I suspect you can make this all in one pot if you get the rice cooking, add the squash on top 10 minutes before the rice is done, and then collards 5 minutes before rice is done. I'm a big fan of lazy cooking.

I know some of you are thinking, how is this a recipe? Does she have a recipe for ice cubes as well? But I'm new to cooking and excited that I made anything! I'm starting to realize how easy the stuff I order at places like Angelica Kitchen (RIP) and Souen. This is halfway to a dragon bowl already.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


You know I recently discovered non-dairy yoghurt, and I am in love! I missed eating yoghurt for a long time because it reminds me of my childhood, but I would always experience weird mood swings after consuming it (usually crying episodes) so I stayed away. Well, childhood delight and no more tears with FAUXGURT (FAUXGHURT if you believe in the British monarchy)! I think/hope I invented that word. (Side note: I recently heard a nice new word for non-dairy ice cream: NICE CREAM!! YEAAAH!)

So by now I've tried the following, and here are my brief thoughts about each:

Blueberry Forager Cashewgurt - Sweet and delish with a really nice almost gummy bear texture

Strawberry Forager Cashewgurt - Same as above.  I'll add that I like how the label is paper and you can remove and recycle the plastic and paper separately.

Unsweetened Plain Forager Cashewgurt - a little bland, but great if you are adding to sweetened granola or something to make a parfait because the texture is there, and it lets the granola add the flavor (I ate it with cranberry granola.  Delish!!

Strawberry Kite Hill Almond Milk Yogurt -  I could tell this is almond based, which was distracting for me. My husband did not mind at all (he enjoys almond based NICE cream too, so

Blueberry Kite Hill Almond Milk Yogurt - same as above, I just couldn't get into it.

Blueberry So Delicious Yogurt Alternative (coconut based) Delish, also has a nice smooth texture like the cashewgurts.  I don't love the shape of the cup though, as I feel like miniscule drops of delicious fauxgurt get trapped in the bottom and I want to squeege that cup clean with my spoon!

Cocoyo Coconut Yogurt - this is the most "sour" of the bunch, like plain dairy yoghurt, which I also love.  The jar I had was a little fizzy and tasted a little tingly like kombucha, so I wasn't surprised that it's made by the same folks that make kombucha.  I assume this is all the live probiotics that is making this so good for you.  This is very rich and creamy, definitely couldn't finish a whole jar in a single sitting which made the resealable jar nice.  I also like that the jar is glass and it makes a great container to wash out and reuse in the kitchen for green juice, spices or whatever you have around afterward.

So my pick out of all these is... Blueberry Cashewgurt!  2nd up, Cocoyo, third is So Delicous.  Kite Hill I can pass on, but by all means if you love almonds that is the one for you.  Go forth and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shopping in Hell...

...Hell's Kitchen, that is. There are a surprising number of great places to grocery shop for vegan specialty items in Hell's Kitchen, NYC!  There's a ton of vegan friendly restaurants, but what if you want something to cook at home or just a snack on the go?  

First of all, let me say my favorite vegan supply place is the FRUIT STAND on 43rd and 9th Avenue, because fresh fruits and vegetables are the way go vegan!  It's the most delicious, healthy, and easy thing to eat.  I'm eating a banana from Fruit Stand 43 as I write this.  The people that work there are the nicest and hardest working people you'll ever meet.  They tough it out all year round in the wind, the rain, the snow, the freezing, and the heat, all to bring fresh healthy food to the neighborhood.

Cashewgurt and Cocoyo on the lentil-embedded tables at Green Symphony

As far as vegan snacks go, there is a deli called Green Symphony on 43rd between 8th and 9th (North side of the street).  That's where I discovered Cashewgurt!  They also have other interesting things like Cocoyo and nice vegan pastries (I like the vegan pecan pie squares).

In terms of grocery stores, there's a Food Emporium on 42nd and 10th which does have some vegan specialty items, but if you really want to hit the jackpot, head West to Sunac on 42nd and 11th!  They carry Daiya cheese products, and all kind of hippie vegan foods.  If you're a little further uptown, Westerly Market on 8th and 54th is your home base!  Sunac is a little yuppier, Westerly is a little hippier, and both demographics love plant based products!

Monday, March 13, 2017

This Exists and is Delicious


I used to love yoghurt.  Until I realized that it was making my face break out (dairy) and also it would cause weird sadness and crying spells after eating it. I don't know why, but I think it is related to the hormones in the milk (definitely the culprit related to the acne).

So I haven't eaten yoghurt in years and years, even though I would look at some of my old favorites longingly at the store. But I found something that is just like eating yoghurt without the acne or crying spells!!

It's made out of cashews, and there are probiotics in it too. I've only had strawberry and blueberry flavors, and both are really good! If I were blindfolded, I wouldn't know that it wasn't yoghurt, except actually now that I think about it, it doesn't have that sour-ness that I never really liked in the first place (that's why most yoghurts are loaded with sugar and fruit flavorings.  I guess I should try the plain flavor for a true comparison.

But right now I'm so happy I have something that tastes and feels like I'm eating yoghurt without all the animal suffering (and acne and mood swings). I also like how the label is paper and I can tear it off the cup and recycle it separately.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Netflix Movie Reviews: Forks over Knives, The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, Vegucated

I just got back from a health-related conference and one of the topics that came up was diet's effect on disease.  One of the speakers recommended the movie Forks over Knives, and I was so impressed by the speaker's overall talk I watched the movie on Netflix as soon as I got home. From there, it led to another movie, which led to another movie! Here's a quick review of all three movies I watched:

Forks over Knives
I know I'm late to the game on this one, as this movie has been out since 2011 and I've heard people praise it for years! I just never bothered watching it because I feel like I don't need convincing that a vegan diet is the way to go. WELL! This movie turbo-charged me into vegan mode! There seems to be a great deal of peer-reviewed scientific data that shows a strong correlation between animal protein and several diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.  I do have health issues, and it seems like going vegan is the answer to all my concerns. Also, a lot of the science in this movie is based on The China Study, and I'm Asian so I feel like if anything is going to work for me it should be the thing based on a study of millions of Asians. I just checked out the China Study book from the library....

Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue
I was so excited by the idea of improving my health through diet from watching Forks over Knives, I went ahead and clicked on Netflix's recommended related video, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue. The main guy in Engine 2, Rip Esselstyn, is the son of one of the physicians in Forks over Knives. He's a former professional triathlete and fire fighter in Austin, TX. He is on a plant based diet, and I have to say, he's an excellent spokesperson for the lifestyle. Let me put it more simply: He's super hot! In this movie he helps makeover two families' kitchens and attitudes towards eating. One thing that really separates this "diet" from any other vegan diet is the avoidance of processed food (there is a cornucopia of vegan junk food out there!) and emphasis on vegan whole food (fresh, unprocessed). It makes sense to me why avoiding processed products would make a significant difference in the health factor of foods.

This movie focuses more on the environmental and ethical aspects of veganism, evidenced by the acceptance of lots and lots of processed and packaged vegan junk food. Overall, I found this movie to be less compelling than the Forks over Knives - it's less data driven and more antidotal.  One thing I disliked was the fact that they do show (very brief) video clips from slaughter houses because I'm very sensitive to those kinds of images.  On a rational level I know it takes place every day at slaughter houses across the country, so I guess it was a necessary wake up call that our society dissociates what's on a plate (or in a bag, a wrapper, a box, etc) with where it comes from. This movie was good at showing the very real challenges of maintaining a vegan diet in our society, and it also shows the very real benefits.

Take aways: See Forks over Knives if you are looking for a new approach to improve your health. Even if you're already on board with veganism, this will give you the added motivation you may need to really commit! See Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue if you're on board with plant-based whole foods but don't know where to start (or if you are trying to convince a macho friend that tough guys can be vegans too!).  See Vegucated if you're new to the ideas of a vegan lifestyle and want to know more about the multitude of reasons why it's good all around!