NEW VIDEO: 5 Step Butternut Squash Ravioli

Let me begin by briefly telling you about the new project this video became a part of. Lehigh Valley Mirror is a new website run by the amazing (I mean it, they really are) Matt and Sarah of Post Sputnik.

(These are the same folks that filmed and edited our submission for the It Gets Better project. The heartwarming video for that can be seen HERE.)

LV Mirror is a website with weekly updates that focus on highlighting 100% local events, independent businesses, people making positive impacts on the community, a love of the arts, etc. But check it out: everything is brought to you in short web videos! Sort of like a blog you can watch. 

The current week, which will be up until this Wednesday, features one of the best bookshops in the area, Blind Willow in Emmaus, PA, and a phone interview with none other than musician Dr. Dog (who is playing a show here in the near future).

I feel so lucky to be on the same roster this week as the FOOD feature! Here’s the video with the recipe to follow.

5 STEP BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 butternut squash, small
  • 1/3 cup vegan parmesan cheese (make your own or buy something like this)
  • 1/3 cup panko crumbs (or plain bread crumbs if you don’t have panko)
  • 2 Tbsp vegan butter (Earth Balance brand is the best!)
  • 1 pack premade wonton wrappers or rice noodle wrappers (*** Note the ingredients, some contain eggs.)
  • small cup with clean water
  • more vegan butter for sauteeing
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • salt to taste
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Spray a baking ban with nonstick spray, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut squash in half lengthwise, and put on the pan cut side down. Bake until soft (could be 30-45 minutes), and skin starts to brown a little. Take out of oven and allow to cool.
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Peel the skin off the squash, you can use your hands, and put the squash in a big mixing bowl. Mash with a potato masher. Add the vegan parmesan, panko crumbs and butter substitute and mix. Add salt to taste.<div class=’clear’>&nbsp;</div>
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Get your wonton wrappers ready! One at a time, lay a wrapper down on the work surface. Put a small spoonful of the squash mixture in the middle. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Fold into a triangle, and press the sides well to close. Make as many as you’d like!
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*At this point, you can take the uncooked raviolis, dust them in flour, and freeze them until you are ready to use them. DO NOT pile them on each other and put them in the fridge. It will turn into a giant blob. A delicious blob, but a blob nonetheless. I learned this the hardway two Thanksgivings ago, woopsies.
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Drop raviolis into a pot of boiling water. They only need to boil about 4-5 minutes. Stand watch or they will get much too soft and fall apart!
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In a pan, heat more vegan butter and tear off pieces of fresh sage. (Tear the sage by hand, don’t use a knife, this prevents browning.) Place the raviolis in the pan, careful not to have them touch or they will stick together. You may have to do this in batches.
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Depending on how long you heat the ravilois, they will stay soft or get crispy. Cook them as long as you want! Garnish wish fresh sage to make it look pretty.
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THANK YOU Matt & Sarah, everything you touch turns to instant perfection! We love Lehigh Valley Mirror! <div class=’clear’>&nbsp;</div>
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FORKS OVER KNIVES: Film Featured on Dr. Oz and Coming to Theaters This Summer

If you’ve ever studied or even remotely looked into plant based diets in terms of sustaining or improving health, you have likely read or consumed something that cited The China Study. In short, The China Study is one of the most comprehensive studies EVER about diet and it’s effects on health.

  The thought is: If we in America have access to a billion diet and weight loss plans, any all the food we could ever want and the best doctors and most information, WHY are we getting sicker and sicker?

Likely because we have some messed up ideas about food and nutrition, thanks to years of schooling and misinformation (Do you know those “Food Pyramid” charts from your elementary school cafeteria were invented by meat and dairy companies? Yup, it was an ad), a fear of being fat so we rush to fad diets instead of actual health (A diet that says it’s OK to eat cheese and ham for lunch, but claims fruit is bad? WHAT?) – so many rational people in our country have no idea at all what to eat! No wonder.

So when we get sick, and boy are we, we simply can’t figure out why.

I pose a question: If you dropped a slice of apple on the ground outside, you’d likely not pick it up and eat because it’s “dirty”. But how many times a year do you eat a hot dog, of which 25% of it’s ingredients are (and are allowed to be!) unknown… something which you literally do not know what you are eating? 

 “People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease … People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored,” said Dr. Campbell.

What he found is that people in Asian countries, and often times in undeveloped areas, had no histories of heart diease, breat cancer, colon cancer, diabetes, hypertension, etc…. Because they ate mostly plant-based diets. Plain and simple.

This summer, a new documentary will be released nationally about Campbell’s work. Forks over Knives talks with folks in the plant-based nutrition movement about preventing and even reversing things like cancer and diabetes. It can begin with food.

Eating a plant-based diet sounds crazy? Why is the other alternative, taking a ton of pills, injecting our bodies with drugs every day, and cutting our bodies open more normal? When did everything get so backwards?


This summer we finally (FIIIINNAAAALLLYYYYY!!!!) get to view Forks Over Knives. The film was discussed on the Dr. Oz show yesterday, and screenings are happening across the country and slated to open in coming months.

Lehigh Valley Residents: I’m working with the cinema manager (harhar) at SteelStacks to get this film as soon as humanely possible! Count on me to let you know as soon as that happens!

AND, if anyone wants to come along on a road trip this summer, a lot of the doctors featured in this film and on the Dr. Oz show will be speakers at Vegetarian Summerfest this year (I’m going! Let’s carpool or meet up!).

NEW VIDEO: “SteelStacks Salad” on SteelStacks Live! with Jon Lunger

Cooking with people is fun!
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Here’s the newest STK video from my pals at SteelStacks Live!
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Me and host Jon Lunger make a cold soba noodle salad aptly named “SteelStacks Salad”.  Watch the video and check out the recipe below!
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STEELSTACKS SALAD RECIPE

INGREDIENTS:

  • cooked Soba Noodles (2 “bundles” from one package)
  • 2-3 heads of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1-2 cucumbers, peeled and cut into half-circle shapes
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and cut any shape you like!)
  • 6-8 raw radishes, cut in circles
DRESSING and GARNISH:
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce OR tamari OR Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 or 2 cloves fresh grated garlic
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped

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Boil the soba noodles as per package directions and set aside to cool in a large mixing bowl. Steam the carrots and broccoli until crisp tender. Add steamed broccoli, carrots and cucumbers and radishes to the soba noodle bowl.
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In a small mixing bowl, whisk together *soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, garlic and agave nectar. Add the dressing to the bowl of salad and mix through. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.
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*You can use soy sauce (look for low sodium varieties), tamari sauce (which is like soy sauce but with a little more flavor), or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (which can be found in most health food stores!). 
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Additions: Try some fresh grated ginger, red pepper flakes or seasoned rice vinegar for more variety!

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Gigantic THANK YOU’S to ArtsQuest and GreenLeaf Productions! See you all soon!

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I WATCHED OPRAH GO VEGAN: Now What!?

This afternoon The Oprah Show devoted an entire episode to veganism. Her staff was issued a 1-week challenge to go vegan at work and at home. Reporter Lisa Ling went inside a slaughterhouse to show everyone where meat comes from. Author Kathy Freston (one of my all-time favorite vegan authors – she ties in the spiritual aspect of eating a plant-based diet which I love) was on the show promoting her new book Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy and Change the World – and helping everyone at Harpo get adjusted.

You don’t need to commit to being vegetarian or vegan 100% of the time to reap the benefits and still help yourself, animals and the earth. But every time you make a plant-based diet decision, you benefit ALL of those things!

Pizza tart with broccoli almond-walnut pesto and fresh tomatoes on whole wheat crust.

If you saw this show and are thinking of ways to “lean into” vegan eating, or just go “vegan-ish” a few times a week and don’t know how to start – let me help you!

I am available to:

  • take you food shopping! I’ve been on a budget my whole life, and know the importance of saving money and making healthy meals that taste good on a limited amount of money. Supermarkets can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. I can work with you by going to your grocery store (it’s okay that we don’t have Whole Foods!) and showing you how to shop the store, as well as introduce some new local stores (like ethnic markets and farmers markets).

    Marinated mushroom and mixed greens sandwich on whole grain bread; grilled asparagus with peanut sauce

  • help you with the basics of cooking. This includes everything from getting the right kitchen tools to basic pantry staples. The right tools will make cooking EASY and FAST, and you don’t need to spend  hundreds of dollars on fancy appliances. Learning basic cooking methods like how to roast veggies and make tofu delicious will help you infinitely! By having some herbs and spices on hand and knowing how to blend them, you can make very inexpensive, low-fat  meals any time.

    Chilled berry mousse dessert (dairy-free)

  • help you learn about plant-based diets and nutrition. If you want to ask the tiresome “Where do you get your protien?”, I’d be happy to retort with “Where do you get your fiber, B-vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron…. shall I go on?” You can get ALL THE PROTEIN YOU NEED from a plant-based diet. Did you know, ounce for ounce, broccoli has TWICE AS MUCH protein as steak? It’s true!  There are so many wacky food myths – we can set the record straight!

    Spicy veggie stir fry with wide rice noodles and peanuts.

I believe in welcoming, informative and fun education and would love to help you incorporate vegan cooking into your life in a way that feels right for you. You will save money, increase your health and help the earth and animals as well as yourself.

Please comment here or contact me to get started! savethekales@gmail.com

*Here is the disclaimer where I tell you that veganism is NOT only about food, but a lifestyle and for many, a belief system that shines through in day-to-day life, decision making, etc… There are MANY wonderful resources and people educated on helping you learn more about those aspects.
I’m happy to help with the food since I am most confident in my abilities on that topic. If you’d like help finding more information, me or other readers would love to assist in any way we can! Just ask!

INSIDE THE LINES: Stencils Aren’t Just for Old Ladies

I’m cleaning and organizing the house (when the fabulous ladies of Lehigh Valley Style are coming over, it can make you a little neurotic – will the humorous irony of the cardboard deer head come across?!).  I really love this house but I want to shake things up in terms of color and texture.

After making an endless list of DIY projects I want to do, I stumbled across some old craft supplies from my design school projects and felt a surge of inspiration!

This is my rolling kitchen cart. I have flanked it next to this folding table on which Ryan made a makeshift tiered bar out of scrap wood and bricks. This created a kitchen island – okay, peninsula – and gives a lot of workspace for me to toss dried spices all over. The back of the cart faces the living room. The black back isn’t horrible, but it’s certainly nothing special.

Time to change that!

I used a flower stencil I found for a dollar at a craft store about 2 years ago. Normally, the thought of stenciling something makes my stomach turn over on itself as I recall so many ivy vines and ugly floral trims. Thankfully with the resurgence of gorgeous modern wallpaper in the past few years, stencils have seen the same update.


Out of sheer luck, I found the stencil two days ago, and tonight I found the remnants of some bright paint and brushes. Since I already had everything on hand, this project was FREE!

FREE!

And don’t worry about doing this project while you’re by yourself and wondering if your partner will come home and be upset that you’ve painted pink flowers on things, because 1) it’s easy to cover up/change and 2) the Philly Phanatic has a residence on the bookshelf in the living room for all to see, so I don’t want to hear it. (Love you, honey.)

Stencils are really cheap! You can make your own – go HERE for some directions – or find them at a craft store or online.

I used a tube of basic craft paint, it probably cost less than $2 and craft paint comes in a million colors! The brush was a very soft medium-sized paint brush, but you can also buy foam brushes that work well for stenciling. Remember, you want to push the brush into the stencil and “dab” the paint on, NOT paint in long strokes as if you were painting a wall!

Go try your own! I love it, and already have ideas for the fireplace. Stay tuned…

SOWING THE SEEDS OF DINNER: I’ll Try Gardening (Again)

It’s 2:15am. I have the flu, and after sleeping all day I also now have insomnia. I’m using my time to try to learn about a subject near and dear to me, something I absolutely love and support with every essence of my being. And something I’m ashamed to say I do terribly: backyard gardening.

Me and my pals gardening back in 1954.

My mother tells a great story (every year on September 28th) about going into labor and trying to call my Grandmother to tell her, but not getting through because my Gram was out in her garden. (I also came an entire month early, surprise!) My family members are great at getting things to grow. One summer at my parents house we found a bunch of little watermelons all over the backyard because earlier in the year I spit seeds over the side of the pool. Classy.

If all goes according to plan, my yard will look exactly like this.

But when it comes to me, solo, intentionally trying to grow something, I am met with resistance and an almost spiteful contention.

I’ve tried. My goodness, have I tried. Last year my mom came to town and helped me attempt container gardening. A few things survived… well, until they died. In the end, I was left with a few red peppers clinging to their stems for dear life. Then my neighbor’s dog ate them.

Seed packet art is absolutely beautiful! Some should be framed. Vegetables are so pretty.

I have gone from living with no yard for years to a large, private yard with excellent sunlight and a beautiful shaded walkway up the side of the house that looks wild and romantic when the sun is setting late in the summer. In theory, I should be harvesting beans and squash til it’s bursting out the kitchen window.

While I’ve accepted prior defeat, I am pulling myself up by my gardening clogs (I want pink ones) and attempting to do my part in the Grow Your Own movement.

I’ve already talked to local gardening superstars, and they’ve agreed to let me into their lush vegetation to see how it’s done. I’m hoping Ryan’s dad will help me with the tools needed to make raised beds, and I’ll be taking a trip (video to come!) of some urban public gardens in various parts of the Valley.

Awesome.

Until then, I’m browsing catalogs and making lists of everything I’d like to grow. If even half of the veggies make it, I’ll be able to cook many inspired dishes with rations from the yard.

This is where I call upon you to offer guidance, advice and support. If you have a favorite gardening catalog, website or personal knowledge, please pretty please share it here!

I’m lucky enough to live near Rodale Farms, and my friend’s brother is the editor of nationally known Organic Gardening Magazine. I have resources. Time to take advantage of them! And keep all extremities crossed for luck.

So many of you have already responded with tons of info (via my personal Facebook page) – keep it coming, please! I’ll compile everything and make gardening updates moving forward. You’re the best!