Vegan spring risotto

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OK. I’ve been wanting to make risotto for some time. Well, the weather is nicer now (not as warm as I wish it was but still),which means the season for white wine is officially open. Every time I have that opened bottle of Italian wine sitting in my fridge I always think of making risotto. It does take a little time, but the results are incredible – a creamy fragrant dish that is just so tasty. I love enjoying it on a cool evening with a glass of wine.

And my veggies are starting to pop on the balcony so I decided to put them to use!

Here how to make this spring risotto.

Yield: 3- 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of Arborio rice (do yourself a favor and go to an Italian grocery store if you have one in your area. Or come to mine! So much cheaper)
  • 1/2 yellow onion or 1 small sweet Italian onion
  • 2.5 cups of veggie broth (I make my own but you can buy one in the store)
  • 1/4 tsp saffron
  • 1 cup of white Italian wine (Hola to my favorite wine shop in Brooklyn www.naturalwine.com. You guys are always so sweet, so helpful, so amazing!)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Decoration: purple leaves of mesclun, few springs of chives, broccoli flowers

 

I fist start with making my broth by cooking down whole bunch of washed veggie scraps that I keep in my freezer for occasions like this. Make the broth with salt since we are not going to salt our risotto. If you are using a store bought veggie broth – skip the step.

Chop onions very finely. On a medium heat in a saucepan saute onions in olive oil until golden. Add rice to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low. Mix it with the onions for about a minute then add white wine. Mix again. Once wine evaporates add a little bit of broth (about 1/4 cup) and mix. Continue adding broth and mixing for the next 30 min or so until you almost run out of broth. For the last 5-10 min of cooking add saffron to the rice and just mix it in well. It will give rice this pretty yellow color and aroma. When you run out of broth cook risotto for another few minutes and turn off the heat. Cover with lid. Let sit for a couple of minutes, then serve. Top your spring risotto with purple leaves of mesclun, chives and broccoli flowers. Enjoy!!

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NYC Veg Food Festival 2016

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This weekend there is a pretty big vegan event happening in town – NYC Veg Food Fest. This was my first time at the festival and I volunteered as a photographer. The amount of people that showed up was very impressive – thousands of curios minds. I was happy to see people supporting the cause – vegans and non-vegans alike. There were so many vendors, and many amazing speakers that were sharing the message about the beauty and benefits of living a vegan lifestyle. It was incredible! There were so many amazing products, from cosmetics and shoes to kombuchas and macaroons. Vegan awareness grows pretty fast in large cities like New York. Our goal is to expand beyond big cities and inspire people around the world! We can unite people through compassion. It may sound Utopian right now but I’m sure soon the time will come when it becomes reality!

At the festival I had a chance to talk to random people and answer some questions about food and vegan lifestyle. It felt so empowering to share my perspective and knowledge!

My lovely Catskill Animal Sanctuary representatives were there, and I was so happy to see them! Guys, if you have not visited this farm animals sanctuary – do it. The weather is finally getting warm and, I promise you, this trip will change your life! With every dollar of a donation or membership we save lives. The rewards are incredible.

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The superstar of medical world that promotes vegan lifestyle – Dr. Michael Greger was there too with a presentation. I absolutely adore his work and his tremendous efforts in educating people about what they eat and how does it affect their bodies. Lifestyle diseases can be reversed with a plant-based diet. I highly recommend to you his new book “How not to die” (here is a link to buy it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/How-Not-Die-Discover-Scientifically). It is a New York Times bestseller, and is ranking #1 seller on Amazon. The knowledge that Dr. Greger shares is priceless. Do yourself a favor and pick the book.

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My absolute favorite local vegan cheese shop Riverdel was at the festival. Their cheeses are beyond delicious. I bought a new truffle flavor, and it is so good!!! Best snack ever!! There was a huge line at their stand.

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Upton Naturals seitan people were there with cooking samples. I love Upton. I think it is the best seitan on the market as of now. The texture is incredible, and the spiced versions are out of this world. My favorite is Chorizo flavor.

Upton

Follow Your Heart is another company I love. I tried their smoked Gouda and Pepper Jack cheeses and they were amazing. Would be great on pizza or tacos. Still have not tried their vegan egg.

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There were many new vendors that I has so much fin discovering. Sweet Maresa’s was one of them. Vegan macaroons?! Yes please!!! There were the sweetest girls at their stand too. The company’s name speaks for itself. 🙂

Sweet_Maresas

Innovative kombucha flavors are so fun to try. There were a few brands at the festival selling this delicious fermented drink. Pilot was one of my favorites with such creative flavors and fun packaging colors. I really like Juniper berry and Turmeric aloe flavors.

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Yeah Dawg rocked this year with a line for these tasty home-made gluten-free, soy-free vegan hot dogs out of the door. Marina Benedetto, the founder, was serving people herself. I had a Viva Dawg and it was fantastic. I especially loved the toppings: coconut “bacon”, chipotle mayo and pickled pineapple. Photo below is of Cali Kush Dawg.

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This shining lady was selling a healing tea – Tea of Life made out of chenopodium ambrosioides, also known as Mexican tea, American wormseed, Jerusalem oak. The taste was interesting and the health benefits are huge. Would definitely give it a try!

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This drink by Sapp was very special. It is birch tree water which is very popular on Russia, and, I believe, all Eastern Europe. Just like we tap maple trees here in United States, birch trees could be tapped too. The water is very rich in minerals and has a lot of health benefits. They had 3 flavors: regular, and two infusions – nettle leaf and rosehip. I highly recommend!

Sapp

For me, the most inspiring thing at the festival was the warm thought of how many people are vegan in New York, and how many are curious about going vegan. People were kind and talkative. People smiled a lot. People were open to learn new things. That it a blessing! And it is all it takes to start a new life.

 

 

Raw coconut mango cheesecake

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Raw desserts are my favorite. There is so much life! I like them light, fruity and pretty. I get so much energy and satisfaction that no cooked dessert can give. This recipe is very simple to prepare. It is gluten free and you can eat it any time of a day, breakfast or late dinner. To make this cheesecake you’d only need a food processor and a pan with a removable bottom. That’s it! No special skills required 🙂 Let’s dive in!

Ingredients for a 7″ cake:

  • 1 cup raw pecans
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut + 2 tbsp for decoration
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 16 dates
  • 1.5 cup raw cashews
  • 5 tbsp raw coconut sugar
  • 1 young coconut
  • 2 tbsp soft raw coconut oil
  • 2 ripe mangoes
  • juice of 1/2 lime

Soak nuts for at least 4 hours in 2 separate bowls. When nuts are soaked we can start preparing the cake.

To make the base we are going blend together (in a food processor) soaked pecans, shredded coconut, oats and dates. Once the mixture comes together spread it on the bottom of a cheesecake pan.

Next step is to make the “cheese”. Rinse your food processor and set aside. First we are going to make coconut milk by blending together coconut water from a fresh coconut with its flesh. Next in the food processor blend together cashews, coconut oil, coconut sugar and freshly made coconut milk. The consistency should be like a thick cream. Process it until cashews become very creamy. Spread the cheese layer on the top of base layer. Put the cake in the freezer for a few minutes.

Last step is to prepare mango layer by simply blending 2 mangoes and lime juice into a puree. Take out the cake from the freezer and spread the last layer on top. Sprinkle the cake with remaining shredded coconut and set in a freezer for about 4-5 hours. Let it sit for 10-15 min out of the freezer before serving. Enjoy!IMG_2881IMG_2882