“We Are All Meant to Shine”

Thank you to Laure Lovelace, my fitness bootcamp trainer, animal activist, and someone I’m happy to call a friend. She sent the following to me over the weekend:

One of my favorite quotes makes me think of you today…

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Shine On by Lan Truong

by Lan Truong

It’s from Marianne Williamson. The first time I read that quote I was moved to tears as well. Being someone who to this day at times feels ‘guilty’ for being happy it is something I need to remind myself of.

I used to think that being compassionate meant feeling pain all the time. While it is painful to be aware of the tragedies of this world, we do no good by wallowing and not being our best. When we are at our best we can BE our best and that makes the world a better place.

Shine on my friend ♥

–        –         –         –

A smart one, she is. Yes. Shine on.

 

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SAVE THE KALES!: New Half Hour Vegan Cooking/Lifestyle/Travel Show airs in May

Hey. You like watching things, right? Watch this:

Maybe The Law of Attraction is real after all.

Starting in May, Save the Kales! will be airing as a half hour television show of the same name. We’ll be cooking in a beautiful “studio” kitchen. We’ll be traveling to different locations (most in or around the Lehigh Valley) to meet the people and tour the places bringing plant-based food, and  sustainable and healthy living ideas to the masses.

Add in a mix of vintage thrift stores, farmer’s markets, animal sanctuaries, and more… and you get Save the Kales! Show. It will essentially be this blog in television format. 

(Wow. Wow. I still can’t believe it.)

ADG Photography

A new episode will air every month, multiple times a month, on RCN Cable – and be stored in the “On Demand” files so you can tune in any time. We will also air commercials leading up to each new show… which means you could be watching HGTV and see a Save the Kales! commercial. Isn’t that crazy!?

Don’t have RCN cable? Fear not. After a week of airtime, all episodes will go online to live indefinitely. My mother would never allow me to make a show that she wouldn’t be able to view from home. 🙂

(I have spent a lot of time in these last two months worrying about what could go wrong: the inevitable anonymous mean passive aggressive comments, the “She’s not as good of a cook as so-and-so, why does she get this?” speculations, the general vulnerability that comes when you put yourself in a vulnerable place… I was going to write about all of these because I haven’t been able to think about this show without thinking about them.

But for now, I’ll leave them aside. This is too good to tarnish with worry and anxiety. Besides, there is a lesson in everything and even the “bad stuff” can be a great teacher. I continue to learn all the time.)

ADG Photography

And I also have more faith in it now (and in myself, and maybe that was the trickiest hurdle of all). My goal isn’t to pretend I’m the most inventive cook, or the most knowledgable about vegan living and issues…

My goal is: to make this lifestyle accessible to people. Especially those who don’t know anything about it and feel it’s too difficult, overwhelming, or expensive. It’s not any of those things, but I don’t just want to TELL people, I want to SHOW them.

And at the end of each episode, if I can provide some knowledge and ideas for eating delicious plant-based meals on a budget, and hopefully entertain and highlight the people and places doing positive things along the way, it will be a success.

And here’s the best part: In a year from now, we will have so much experience and so many episodes under our belt. Perhaps by then a major network will be willing to pick up a show like this in it’s roster of meat-centric programming. While that’s not my driving force, it would be a very Cinderella-magical outcome.

One thing I’ve learned about trying to imagine the future: you can’t. So work hard, smile, and see what happens.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been more nervous or excited for anything in my whole life. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

–               –               –                  –               –                –              –

It would be impossible to talk about this show without mentioning Matt and Sarah of Lehigh Valley Mirror, my co-producers, directors, camera crew and editors. Lehigh Valley Mirror will also be airing as a half hour show starting in April, featuring independent and creative people and businesses in the LV. 

Matt and Sarah, I could never possibly thank you enough for believing in me to invest your time, skills, and friendship. I’d lasso the moon for you both if I could. You are dreams-come-true to work with. Thank you.

PARSLEY WALNUT PESTO: Put it on Everything

Parsley was once the curly green garnish I left on my plate when my Mom, Gram and I would eat lunch at the old Boscov’s in Wilkes-Barre. I would gleefully eat the whole lemon slices from everyone’s iced teas, but every time I’d take a nibble of the parsley (and I did try, each time), I couldn’t understand WHY it existed except to work up my then-budding OCD by being the only remaining thing on a clean plate.

These days, I am a total parsley convert. I always have it, and it’s notoriously the only plant I’ve been able to grow and keep alive for an entire season. I’m talking about the flat leaf, or Italian parsley – the curly kind is still quite bitter and leaves something to be desired.

A natural breath freshener thanks to some aromatic oils in the leaves, parsley is a health food, touting a good amount of Vitamin C among other notable benefits.

This past Saturday as I was squished up in bed flipping through the new Whole Living magazine (one of my all-time favorite publications), I found this simple recipe. The ingredients are minimal, and like me, you may have everything on hand already.

*The original recipe calls for orange sweet potatoes; I had white sweet potatoes on hand, but orange would be great and look pretty, too!

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES WITH PARSLEY WALNUT PESTO

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes, cut into “fries”
  • 7 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts (toast them if you’d like)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the sweet potatoes in a bowl (you may need to do this in two batches) and toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil, just enough to lightly coat, and season with salt and pepper. Put them on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Turn once turing cook time. They will be tender and just starting to brown.

Roasted white sweet potatoes.

While the potatoes are in the oven, make the pesto. Blend the remaining ingredients in a food processor. You will need to stop and scrape down the sides of the processor once or twice to make sure everything is mixed through. Pesto will have somewhat of a chunky paste consistency.

Parsley walnut pesto.

Allow the potatoes to cool for a few minutes. Plate the potatoes, then use a spoon or brush to spread the pesto over them. The hot potatoes will melt the pesto a little. Mmmm.

White sweet potatoes and Parsley Walnut Pesto.

White sweet potatoes with Parsley Walnut Pesto.

You will likely have at least 1/2 cup of the pesto left over. Use it as a spread on sandwiches (it would be delicious mixed into some Vegenaise), tossed with pasta, or spread over more roasted veggies.  Enjoy!

Why Are Twinkies Cheaper than Carrots?

I came across this video online yesterday. It simply addresses the reasons (unreasonable as they may be)  that “health food is expensive” while cheap, processed garbage food is more affordable (… at the time).

1) I do not think whole foods are expensive*, or that eating healthy has to be. One of the missions of STK! is to show people how to use ingredients most people are familiar with or can find easily and affordable to make meals, when they may otherwise think of vegetables as a side dish only.

*Whole plant foods can be incredibly affordable especially if bought in season and/or from a local market.

 

2) I would never be so presumptuous to make a statement like “People should spend money on better food and less on XYZ”. I may believe that, but I also know that I have a different lifestyle from a single mom working three low-wage jobs; a wealthy businessman who can go to Whole Foods for all organic food; a teenager living and thus eating according to the rules of her parents. We are all at different places in our lives financially: I aim to put forth meals that can be made, and/or adapted, to fit most budgets.

BECAUSE…

3) A perceived “problem” with whole foods is that people don’t know what to do with them. So we can encourage someone to spend what money they have on greens, grains, dried beans, etc… but then they actually have to eat them or the money and nutrition is wasted.  Cooking education must go hand-in-hand when buying better food is the mission.

What we think of as "cheap food" can still cost a lot of money.

Cooking from whole foods can be MUCH more affordable, as long as one knows HOW to cook with them. (*STK doesn't advocate consumption of dairy or meat as shown in this photo)

But all that said, it’s still truth that we live in a world of 99cent “Value” menus that provide a lot of calories for a little money.

If you’ve ever seen Food Inc., you may recall a scene in which a low income family travels to the grocery store with a limited budget. They pick up a bag of apples, then agree they can buy one whole meal from a fast food chain for the same amount of money as the apples. They put the apples down. In the next scene they are eating their fast food meals in the car on the drive home.

And that scene illustrated an unfortunate truth: sometimes the worst food is much cheaper than the most basic foods.

It doesn’t make any sense.

It’s enraging, horrible, disgusting. It’s completely backwards.

In less than four minutes, this video explains why it happens:

“How is it that something with 39 different ingredients can be cheaper than something you just pull out of the ground?”

You can visit Calpirg.org or CLICK HERE to send an electronic message to the Senator to stop junk food subsidies.

NEW VIDEO: Vegan (Eggless!) Quiche. Yes, Really.

I first learned about the technique of combining tofu and nondairy milk to use as an egg-like mixture from what may have been my first cookbook, The Garden of Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard. They sit there on the cover having a picnic in vintage dresses and pretty tattoos and inside all of the recipes are sassy and 1950’s kitschy clip art is found on every page.

The great thing about this quiche recipe is that once you have learned the basic “egg filling” ratio – 1 cup of tofu blended with 1/3 cup nondairy milk – you can pretty much add anything else you’d like and make your own recipe!

I made this quiche based on what ingredients I had on hand and what I thought would look pretty and colorful. Get creative with spices and veggies. *Note that using some turmeric will make the mixture yellow and look more like eggs if that’s what you’re going for.

WATCH THE VIDEO BY LEHIGH VALLEY MIRROR (below):

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 premade pie crust (read ingredients! or make one from scratch)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5-8 mushrooms, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce (or Tamari or Bragg’s)
  • about 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 block (one cup) extra firm, or firm, tofu
  • 1/3 cup nondairy milk of choice (I use almond milk)
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2-3 green onions, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • about 12 stalks of asparagus (to garnish the top)
  • 5-7 grape tomatoes (to garnish the top)

Save the Kales on Lehigh Valley Mirror

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add olive oil, onion and garlic to a pan and sautee about 4 minutes until the onions start to become translucent. Add red pepper, mushrooms, soy sauce and basil. Mix everything and let cook until veggies just start to soften, another 5-7 minutes.

Press the water out of the tofu. (For this recipe you only use half the block, so put the rest in a container of water and put it back in the fridge.) Put tofu in a food processor with the nondairy milk. Blend until smooth.

Save the Kales Vegan Quiche on Lehigh Valley Mirror

Add tofu mixture to a large bowl along with the veggie mixture. Add turmeric, nutritional yeast, green onions and some salt to the bowl and mix everything together. Add to the pie crust and spread out evenly.

Place asparagus stalks on top along with the tomatoes in a pretty pattern, if you choose to use them. (You can also just make them part of the veggie mixture.) Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. The top will get golden brown.

Save the Kales Vegan Quiche

*TIP: Often times premade pie crusts are sold in twos. This recipe also only takes 1/2 a block of tofu. If you have some extra veggies and spices, you can easily make two quiches instead of one!

BONUS: The extra tip in this video is about using olive oil to remove your eyemakeup! Check it out around the 6:30 minute mark.

RAW TACO SALAD: Ultra-Healthy Spin on a Typically Unhealthy Dish

After Musikfest ended, Ryan and I both noticed our bellies seemed unhappy with us. Just sort of puffy and full-feeling but always hungry, and just… blehhhh. I guess eating a lot of fried, starchy food and mugs of beer can do that to you. (Really, Jaime, you should know better.)

 So I’ve made a point to incorporate not only more whole foods into our meals following the ‘Fest, but more raw foods. I have a fascination with raw foods – mainly, the incredibly creative recipes that raw foodists and cooks dream up. When you can make pumpkin cheese ravioli WITHOUT butter, eggs, milk, pasta or COOKING, you have my attention.

I went to my first Raw Foods class back when I worked at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY and would pilgrimage to Ithaca every chance I got, to the Mecca that was: Green Star Food CoOp.  About 30 of us huddled together for our cooking class where I got to sample raw zucchini pasta with raw tomato-basil sauce. Amazing. 

(Note: The time I lived in Watkins Glen and frequented Ithaca, Ryan was also living in Ithaca. I like to think we met many years ago in that wonderfully progressive oasis of a town.)

I was searching web cooking videos when I came across the blog Girl Gone Raw. It’s very professional, friendly, colorful and packed full of information about health, the benefits of raw foods, and of course the RECIPES.  Right there on the main page was a recipe for a raw taco salad. One glance and I realized I have everything needed to make it, so off I went to work on a salad so good – so tasty and healthy – I’ve had it four times in the last week.

This is not my recipe, but these are my photos and my praise and endorsements. Make this as soon as you possibly can. (I did alter the dressing recipe slightly, but it’s still raw.)

RAW TACO SALAD via Girl Gone Raw blog

Taco meat:
1 cup of walnuts
5-6 sundried tomatoes, soaked 1-2 hours
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbs cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
pinch of sea salt
Blend ingredients together in a food processor until it looks like taco meat. Place in the center of a platter & surround with salad toppings.

Taco "meat" before processed.

Taco "meat" after. Looks convincing, right?

Salad part: 
1 head of green or red leaf lettuce, shredded
2 tomatoes, diced
1-2 ears or corn, corn removed
¼ cup of diced onion
1 avocado, diced
½ lemon or lime juiced

Surround taco meat with shredded lettuce & top with remaining salad ingredients,

Dressing:
1 cup of cashews
1 1/4 cups of water
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1 lime
pinch of sea salt

***I added some tahini and nutritional yeast to the dressing! -JK

Blend everything in a high speed until smooth & creamy. Pour into a 16 oz jar. Drizzle some over top of the salad & save the rest for later. Store in refrigerator.

Raw Taco Salad with cashew-lime dressing.

Dinner, then lunch (then dinner again then lunch again) is served!

I’ll have to include more raw recipes here. Not only are they tasty and creative, but you feel GOOD and powerful after eating them.

Hop over to GIRL GONE RAW and see what else Elizabeth is not cooking up! 

DINNER IMPROV: Creamy Spicy Cauliflower Snacks

I’m pretty sure you can take almost any vegetable, cover it in cayenne pepper and nutritional yeast, roast it, and it will be undeniably delicious. Such is the case with cauliflower.

Kale chips addiction enabling.

I’m an admitted kale chip addict. Note the photo; I’ve learned to keep it on hand at all times because I’ve gone to the store in the middle of the night to ease a kale chip craving and they have been ALL OUT OF KALE which is an abomination! I’ve decided to branch out to other cruciferous veggies so I can be prepared on nights if this should happen again (for shame!).

Here is a super-duper easy peasy recipe for roasted cauliflower that has a surprising sweetness, and I’m not sure if it’s just because it’s white, but cauliflower is so creamy when roasted. It takes 3 minutes to put together and stick in the oven, so you have no excuse NOT to make this.

CREAMY SPICY CAULIFLOWER SNACKS

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or enough to very lightly coat cauliflower)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 350. Put cauliflower into a mixing bowl, and toss with olive oil first, then dry ingredients. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, then place the cauliflower on the sheet in an even layer (don’t pile it up!). Bake until it starts to brown slightly on the tips, about 30 minutes (possibly a little longer).

YUM.

I promise the sweetness of the cauliflower and cheesy-type flavor of the nutritional yeast completely balance out the cayenne, so they have a mild spiciness. These are so simple to make, it’s almost kind ridiculous how tasty they are. 
<p> See? Cooking doesn’t have to be time-consuming, complicated, or expensive. It’s kind of stupid how easy this is. If you can cut things into small pieces, add stuff to a bowl, and extend your arm to put something in an oven, you can do this. The most difficult part is waiting for them to finish cooking. </p>
<p> Cauliflower is crrrraaazzzyyyy packed with vitamin C, too. So eat it up! </p>