Vegan Brazil nut cheese spread

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Brazil nut cheese spread.

Have you tried these very special nuts before? They come from a tree that grows in Amazon, Brazil included. They are very buttery in taste and contain a handful of vitamins, minerals and micro nutrients. Did you know that just a single serving of Brazil nuts (which is only 4 nuts) taken once a month instantly lowers the bad cholesterol in our blood and boosts the good cholesterol?* It would take about 4 days for prescription drugs to achieve the same result. Pretty cool, right? 🙂 Brazil nuts are also loaded with Magnesium, and have good amounts of Calcium, Iron and Vitamin B-6. And, of course, Brazil nuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats and fiber.

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Raw Brazil nuts.

I absolutely adore nut butters and spreads. What a wonderful and pleasant way to eat nuts! It is a perfect morning spread to get your day started with a good kick of vitamins and minerals!

Since I got my lovely Cuisinart food processor I began experimenting more with nut butters, spreads and sauces. It is a very fun process! I love watching textures transform, from a solid nut to a buttery and silky spread. Magic!

Let’s get down to business and make a bad-ass Brazil nut spread! This recipe is by Rich Roll & Julie Piatt. The only difference is I put less salt 🙂

Yields: 1/2 cup (more or less)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw Brazil nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp soy lecithin
  • 2 tbsp filtered water
  • 1 tbsp of any vegetable oil that has no strong taste (grape seed, sunflower)
  • 1/2 tsp of Celtic sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

First and foremost, soak nuts over night in filtered water. Next day, when you are ready to make the spread, drain the water. Place all the ingredients in your food processor or a powerful blender. Blend, blend, blend until it all comes together and forms a creamy consistency. Chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge before serving. Enjoy!

It goes so well with fresh baguette. Oh my!!

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*Data resources: http://nutritionfacts.orghttps://www.researchgate.net.

Vegan turmeric carrot ginger soup

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We are almost at the time of Spring Equinox. The time of change when spring claims its power over the winter. Lately I particularly enjoy cleansing uplifting foods. Vibrant colors makes my heart sings. I went to my local farmers market yesterday morning and picked up some really nice hearty carrots, onions, micro greens mix, and a whole bunch of other veggies, and apples, of course. I’m so happy to see anything  green being sold at this time of the year. Micro greens are great, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – exactly what we need more of right now!

Here is how to make this cleansing soup:

Serves: 6 people

Time: 45 min

Ingredients:

  • 4 large carrots
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4-5 cups of veggie broth
  • 2-3 tbsp of fresh grated ginger
  • olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • Celtic sea salt to taste (if the broth is not salty enough)
  • 1/3 cup of plant milk if desired
  • 2 tbsp of vegan butter (optional)
  • black pepper to taste
  • High quality olive oil for garnish
  • micro greens for garnish

Peal carrots and chop them into 1/2 inch chunks. Peal onion and cut it chunky too. Heat up a saucepan on medium heat, add your oil of choice, put onions in, sauté for couple of minutes until fragrant, now add turmeric powder. Sauté for another few minutes until golden. Add carrots and saute together for 10-15 minutes. Then add your veggie broth, and extra salt if needed, and cook for another 10-15 minutes until carrots become softer. Don’t over cook them! You want your carrots still little hard not mushy.

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The next step is to blend it all together with fresh grated ginger. After blending return your soup to the saucepan on a low heat, add butter and plant milk for extra creaminess. Turn off the heat before the soup start boiling. Voila! Serve with a sprinkle of micro greens, few drops of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper. Enjoy!!

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Vegan fried rice

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I love fried rice! So many cultures have their own version of fried rice, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Thailand, Nigeria, you name it. Well, here is my take on it. 🙂

This fried rice is an excellent staple dish that is healthy, easy to prepare and won’t take a long time. Feel free to add other veggies of firm texture that you like. If you have leftover rice this is a great recipe to utilize it and create a tasty and complete dish.

Here is how to make it:

Serves: 4 people

Time: 50 min

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of brown rice
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 shallot
  • small bunch of scallions
  • 10 spears of asparagus
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 3-4 large leaves of Tuscan kale
  • 1 package of baked tofu (optional)
  • cooking oil

Sauce:

  • 3 tbsp of tamari
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup, agave or brown sugar
  • 2 clothes of garlic – minced
  • 2 tbsp of chili paste (or Sriracha hot sauce)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil

Set rice to cook according to the package instructions. Mine takes 45 min to cook. Chop all the vegetables in small pieces – about 1/4 inch, including kale! Chop onion, scallion, and garlic even smaller. Chop tofu in 1/4 inch cubes. I like using my cast iron skillet, but a large wok pan would be great too. Heat up some oil, throw in chopped onions first, then add garlic, scallions, and the rest. Cook on medium heat until veggies get a nice golden crisp to them. Mix occasionally so they don’t stick. In a separate pan, heat up oil and start cooking tofu on a medium heat. The goal here to get crispy golden cubes. When tofu is ready add it to the main skillet with the veggies.veggies

While vegetables and tofu are cooking we can prepare our sauce. Mix all the sauce ingredients and set aside. Add half of the sauce to the cooking vegetables/tofu.

When rice is fully cooked add it to the veggies mix, add the rest of the sauce. Mix well. Cook for another 5 min so that rice could get a slight crisp to it. And we are done!

Simple and delicious. I hope you enjoy it!

Traditional Chinese Medicine spring detox

 

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Photo: Biegun Wschodni

Oh Spring! I’ve been waiting for you for months. This winter has been strange in NYC. Some days were extremely cold, and others unusually warm. Last week I went to my acupuncturist, and after the session we had a conversation about detoxing. I instantly connected to the idea of a seasonal detox (according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)). This approach feels more gentle, and is a more balanced way to go. It is connected the the seasons and to what’s happening around us. I’ve never done a Western-type of detox that everyone is talking about because I don’t feel comfortable about just stripping away things from my body, bad and good at once. TCM detox, on the other hands, feels more natural and organic to the body.

TCM is one of the oldest continuously practiced medicines in the world. It recognizes the nature and, most importantly, Qi [ch’i] energy that is the underlying force of all that exists in the world. TCM understands how the energy flows inside our human bodies and our environment, and therefore knows how to balance those energies when we feel sluggish, stuck, or sick. By staying deeply connected to nature we can cure our bodies through that alignment.

When we are talking about detoxifying our bodies we are talking about Liver. Let’s look at how TCM helps liver to be more in alignment and more healthy.

It is important to know that TCM is based on the Theory of 5 elements:

  • Wood
  • Fire
  • Earth
  • Metal
  • Water.

Each element is associated with a season, climate, stage of growth, an internal organ, body tissue, sense, taste, emotion, color, sound, foods and more.

Our liver is associate with Wood element and spring season. Spring is the perfect time to enhance and balance liver function (physical and energetic). From TCM perspective, liver, in order to be strong, needs warm energy, and the flow. By clearing the energy of liver in the spring we set a tone for the whole year. I also believe that by “cleaning our house” in the spring we make space for the good to enter our lives. We are preparing the soil for the bright new greens to emerge. We are part of this world, the nature, and so the same principles that take place in the nature happen within our human bodies as well.

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I was cleaning my garden today, preparing for planting soon, and saw this tiny little sprout. Without the clearing I would not even notice it.

Here I’m going to share with you which foods help to promote the warmth and the flow in the body:

  • bamboo shoots
  • broccoli rabe
  • eggplant
  • dandelions greens
  • scallions
  • fennel
  • garlic, ginger and lemon – warming essence.

Liver is also associated with sour taste, so adding a warm apple cider vinegar drink to the daily morning routine would be a huge benefit.

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Image by The hearty soul.

It is very interesting that recently I particularly been enjoying eggplant and bamboo shoots without knowing the Theory of 5 elements yet. It all makes sense now.

This simple recipe that I’ve learned making is Chinese eggplant. I grill it with ginger, garlic, scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce. Serve with brown rice. Try it! I did not have a chance to take a photo of this dish, but here is a good image from the net to give you an idea.

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Image by Taste Spotting.

Spring is the time of change and transformation. By incorporating these simple foods into our diet we can help our bodies to be stronger and more balanced at this time of the year. By doing so we are preparing the base for the rich and lush energy to emerge. I do believe that detox is not about taking something away, but rather balancing what we have. When we are in balance, whatever our body does not need will naturally depart.

Share with me how you are feeling. Does it feel nourishing to incorporate these Wood element foods into your diet?

 

Rediscovering protein

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My chili peppers. Summer 2015.

I believe it is a fair time for all of us to open our eyes and really see the food for what it actually is without the mythology created around it. To tune in with our bodies and feel what we need, not what we were told that we need. It feels good to pay attention to how our bodies feel after a nourishing and nutritious meal. Just notice. I need to do it more often myself 🙂

To me it feels very important to dial back and find original research written on nutrition. There are so many, we only don’t hear about them. I wonder why?

This particular paper that I want to share with you was written by Donald S. McLaren and published by Nutrition Research Laboratory, School of Medicine, American University of Beirut, Lebanon in 1974. Dr. McLaren tells us that the big hype about protein was originated around 1939-45 when United Nations recognized a big danger in children’s malnutrition in Gold Coast in Africa. In 1959 a new term got introduced that is still in common use – “protein-calorie malnutrition”. Once the emphasis has been placed on protein deficiency, animal protein had been prescribed as a cure. At that time the dairy industry (backed up by the US government) got to dispose their by-product, that is dry skim milk, by means of exporting it (aka”helping”) to developing countries instead of burying it here on the US land. How cleaver! These series of events then paved the path for the animal agriculture industries to gain their enormous power that they have today. Powerful ideas have been solidly planted into our minds since. People were told that the more protein the better (emphasis on animal proteins) and they believed it.

The truth is: WE ARE NOT PROTEIN DEFICIENT IN THIS COUNTRY. We are just not! In fact, people in the United States consume way more protein than they should (recommended daily amount is 42 grams of protein a day). Even vegetarians and vegans get 70% more protein than they need every day.

What we really should focus on despite of our dietary choices is a very vital nutrient – fiber. 97% or Americans are fiber deficient! Less than 3% of Americans get a minimum adequate intake of fiber. (Data from http://nutritionfacts.org). This is just shocking!! How come no one advertises the importance of sweet potatoes and collard greens in our diet. Well, there is no money to be made in sweet potatoes…

Remember that a minimum amount of fiber that our bodies need is 31.5 grams a day. An average American barely gets 15 grams a day. I think most people don’t even know that non of the animal products contain fiber. It is not possible by definition. Eggs and bacon for breakfast, chicken sandwich for lunch, and steak with green beans just won’t make it for you. Sorry meateaters. The only source of fiber that exists on this planet is PLANTS.

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My garden. Summer 2015.

Well, the good news is we are in charge of our own health, not the FDA and not the big advertisers. By having this important information available to us and being mindful we can make our own choices. Choices for a healthy and long life. Who doesn’t want that? 🙂

The cool thing about eating veggies is a lot of them are packed with proteins, or should I rather say amino acids (there are 9 vital ones that our bodies need), as well as lots of vitamins and minerals, all in a single vegetable. A complete package 🙂 Some, additionally, even have healthy fats (like nuts and seeds). On the other hand, animal proteins come with a baggage – a huge amount of bad fats and cholesterol. The choice is obvious.

Lets explore a few of my favorite examples of protein rich plant based foods. I love them for the taste and the nutritional content.

Here is my top 10 selection of plant based proteins.

  1. Quinoa – 9 g/cup + whole bunch of Iron.

    I love it topped with roasted veggies and pesto. It is also fun to mix red and white quinoa.

  2. Mung bean sprouts – 9 g/3 tbsp.

    I love these guys mixed into a salad or used to top off a rice noodles dish.

  3. Nuts – cashews – 21g/cup, almonds – 30g/cup, walnuts – 18g/cup.

    Just on their own! 😊

    And of course nut milks, and nut cheeses. My favorites to make are almond milk, walnut Parmesan, and cashew cheese.

  4. Hemp seeds – 16 g/3 table spoons.

    I enjoy these seeds the most in a nut milk form or just on their own sprinkled on a salad or a bowl of fruit – papaya especially.

  5. Broccoli – 4 g/cup + a ton of vitamin C!

    I love oven roasted broccoli or sautéed with garlic and olive oil.

  6. Asparagus – 3 g/cup + vitamin A, C and Iron.

    Cast iron grilled. So good!

  7. Crimini mushrooms – 2 g/cup + copper, selenium, vitamin B2 and even vitamin B12.

    Love these little guys! Sautéed or in a soup. 👍

  8. Nutritional yeast – 9 g/3 tbsp + vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid. Wow!

    In nut cheeses or over kale chips.

  9. Seitan – 21 g/1 oz.

    Sautéed with onions and peppers. I absolutely love seitan tacos. I have a great recipe here: BBQ Seitan tacos with mango salsa.

  10. Spirulina – 4 g/1tbsp + loads of Iron.

    In a green smoothie or just mixed into water or juice.

 

And, of course, the list is endless. Because the focus is not on the amount of protein in a particular food, but rather on the complexity and diversity on our plates. And what I love about eating plant based foods is that by putting 3 vegetables together we can create that diversity. It actually is pretty easy! Let’s experiment! Let’s explore. We are designed to explore!

*Stay tuned for more diverse and nutritious recipes. Until then!*