Fig & Banana Smoothie

August 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

 

I’m finally back in the States after spending most of my Summer in Taiwan. What I miss the most is having fresh tropical fruits on a daily basis. So now that I am back, I have been trying to incorporate more fruits in my diet. I bought two pounds of fresh brown turkey figs because they’re delicious, in season and I got them for $5!

California’s Fresh Figs Seasonal Chart

Chart and descriptions below from California Fresh Figs

  • Fresh Brown Turkey Figs 

They are a light purple to black skinned fig with pink flesh and a robust flavor.

  • Fresh Black Mission Figs

They are a purple to black skinned fig with pink flesh and an intense earthy flavor.

  • Fresh Kadota Figs 

They have a creamy amber color when ripe with a light delicate flavor.

  • Fresh Calimyrna Figs 

They are large pale yellow skinned figs with a nutty, sweet flavor.

I enjoy figs in all recipes, but what I love the most is eating them fresh. I’ve been making this smoothie for a couple of days now and still have not gotten tired of it. I love figs!

Fig & Banana Smoothie Recipe

Serves: 1

Cook Time: 5-10 min

  • 3 Fresh Figs
  • ½ Banana*
  • ½ tbp Shredded Coconut
  • 1 cup of Soymilk or Coconut milk
  • ½ cup of Ice
  • ½ cup of Water
  • Agave or Honey to taste**

*I used frozen banana chunks. My bananas were softening so I cut them up and put them in the freezer.

**It was sweet enough for me without adding anything extra.

To Make: Add all ingredients in blender and blend

Enjoy!

Vegas Style Vegetarian Buffet

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Jen Dow Vegetarian Buffet Restaurant

This restaurant is more commonly known as Lian Xiang Zhai (连香斋) Vegetarian buffet, a Taipei specialty. Changchun Road, No. 353; 011-886-2-2547-4788.

They serve lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I suggest going for lunch (NT 660 (roughly $23 USD).

If you are vegan, most foods in Taiwanese vegetarian restaurants are vegan including this one.

When my family first told me about LXZ I couldn’t believe it. It’s a vegetarian foodie’s dream; an all veg buffet featuring foods from around the world. What?!

I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve been disappointed by many veg restaurants in my life. Would this be another Whole Foods heat lamp style weigh-your-food type place?

When I walked into LXZ it was a true experience like a condensed Vegas style buffet. It’s a welcoming place- bright lights, delicious foods and more variety than your stomach can handle.

Overview

Blue (2,3,5,10,11)- desserts and sweets

Light Blue (6)- cold foods

Yellow (1,7,9)- drinks

Red (4,8,12,13,15,16,17)- hot foods

White (14)- kitchen

 

My Map of LXZ

Brief Description of Each Section (1-17)

1- coffee and tea station (fresh ground coffee and asian style tea)

brew your own tea choose from flowers and tea leaves

2- Haagan-Dazs ice cream (8 flavors) and 5-6 platters of fresh fruit

3- traditional Chinese hot desserts (e.g. fresh almond puree)

4- noodle and wonton stand (made to order)

wonton soup

5- Japanese style handrolls (made to order)

6- salad bar

selection of lettuce and sprouts

7- mixed drinks (cocktail type drinks)

8- 15+ dishes of Chinese food (standard restaurant dishes)

9- bar with variety of American liquor (minimal fee req’d)

10- chocolate fondue fountain, 10+ varieties of cakes (1/2 were vegan)

11- puddings, cream puffs and jellies (vegan available)

12- fresh veggies (sautéed to order) and 3 rice cookers full of rice (rarely touched due to the plethora of food)

13- 15-20+ items of dim sum (all made fresh), 15+ items of standard restaurant food (fried rice etc.)

14- open kitchen

15- Italian style foods (pizza, made to order pasta); Japanese foods (sushi, ramen, miso soup, sashimi); 4 types of drinking vinegars

16- western soup stand (2 freshly made soups)

17- asian soup row ( 5-6 types of stews and soups)

Though I didn’t see all the veg foods from around the world like my mom advertised, it exceeded my expectations. All the foods were fresh and delicious.

It’s an amazing place! Every time I’m in Taiwan I make sure to come here at least once. It’s too good not to. There is no other place in the world that showcases and delivers this amount of variety, taste and quality that LXZ does.

If you are ever in Taiwan, it’s definitely a must!

 

Review: Tasty Harmony, Ft. Collins

June 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

I spent Memorial weekend in Fort Collins, Colorado. After my friend picked me up, we were both hungry. I only had an energy bar and some over priced rice crackers from the airport. I needed a good meal. As a lifelong vegetarian, I didn’t know what to expect from Fort Collins. I was excited to find out.

Tasty Harmony is not a pretentious organic vegetarian restaurant that it would be if it was in Los Angeles. It’s inviting and not over the top friendly, which I find creepy. They’re there to serve good food. The menu is diverse and provides a large drink menu, from teas, smoothies to local beers.

I ordered the Kentucky Fried Freedom, $13 “Battered and pan fried mock chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, black eye peas and garlicky greens.” It was delicious! The prices are higher than I expected, but their portions are big enough for two.

My friend ordered the Nachos de Ynez, $10.50 “Layers of our homemade cashew cheese, black beans, guacamole, vegan sour cream and salsa piled on top of corn chips.” They tasted just like nachos, not vegan nachos, which is great!

Then, we proceeded to dessert. My friend and the waiter boasted about their desserts so I was excited to try them.

I ordered the raw strawberry cheesecake, $7.50. It had a strange grainy texture that I expected from a vegan cheesecake. So, I was disappointed after having an amazing non-vegan tasting meal.

My friend ordered the Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie, $6.95. I still dream about this pie. It was smooth and creamy with the right amount of everything. I was so close to licking the plate. If you don’t come here for the food, you should come here for this!

Yelp Reviews of Tasty Harmony

Quinoa and Spinach Salad with Berries

June 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

My friend moved to Fort Collins, Colorado last year and I went to visit over the weekend. It was filled with fun and of course, delicious food. (I’ll go into more details later. For now, let’s focus on this salad.) Not only is quinoa delicious, it’s actually nutritious and easy to make.

Why it’s nutritious

“When NASA scientists were searching decades ago for an ideal food for long-term human space missions, they came across an Andean plant called quinoa. With an exceptional balance of amino acids, quinoa, they declared, is virtually unrivaled in the plant or animal kingdom for its life-sustaining nutrients.”New York Times (an article about the origins of quinoa and current dilemma in Bolivia)

Quinoa has a chewy texture with a nutty flavor. It’s often mistaken for a grain, but it’s actually related to beets and spinach. The textures and flavors worked well and it’s easy to adapt your favorite nuts and fruits to this dish.  We made it for dinner and savored every bite.

Give quinoa a try! You will be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ~2 loose cups of chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup of cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of currants
  • 1/4 cup of azuki beans (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp almond slices
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (~2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp of maple syrup or agave
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Step 1: boil quinoa with vegetable broth (your package should come with instructions or follow this great video)

Step 2: in a bowl, add in all your ingredients in order listed and mix

Enjoy!

 

 

Creamy Corn Soup with Roasted Peppers

May 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

creamy corn soup with roasted peppers and spicy oil

About the Soup

Arugula, corn and roasted peppers make one of my favorite chopped salads. So why not make a soup?

I wanted to try Tal Ronnen’s Cashew Cream recipe from his book, the conscious cook. Supposedly, raw cashews can mimic the texture and replace cream without altering taste. In the past, I’ve used soy, coconut and almond milk as substitutes for milk. I’ve never used them in savory recipes and I wouldn’t want to. They tasted like what they’re supposed to-soy, coconut and almond.

Could cashews be the answer? I needed to try it.

Cashew Cream Recipe by Tal Ronnen

a page from Tal Ronnen’s The Conscious Cook

I followed the recipe as instructed. I have a Vita-Mix blender (pricey, but worth every penny) so it made things a lot easier.

Step 1: Soak raw cashews (I used a 16 oz. bag from Trader Joe’s.)

This is what they look like after being soaked for a few days. The recipe says overnight, but I didn’t get to them till 3 days later.

Step 2: Pour in Vita-Mix and blend until smooth

cashew cream (~5 cups)

The Soup

Serves: ~4-5

Ingredients:

  • 3 ears of sweet corn
  • 3 roasted peppers*
  • 1 loose cup of arugula (garnish)
  • 1 cup of cashew cream
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2-3 tbsp of olive oil (more for frying arugula)
  • spicy olive oil (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

* I used Trader Joe’s pre-made fire roasted peppers.

Step 1: Shave the kernels (I used a knife or you can buy a fancy gadget.)

Step 2: pour olive oil onto a medium heated pan and saute the kernels with some salt and pepper for 5-7 mins until color changes

Step 3: set 2/3 cup of sautéed kernels aside

Step 4: in your Vita-Mix, add sautéed kernels, roasted peppers, cashew cream, 2 cups of water and blend

Step 5: in a large pot, pour mixture and heat; add 2/3 cup of kernels back in (adjust salt and pepper) and stir; use the remaining cup of water to adjust desired creaminess

Step 6: keep soup on very low heat and prepare to make the garnish

Fried Arugula

Step 1: fill pot with oil 1/2 inch deep

Step 2: after patting dry arugula, drop a few pieces in and fry for 30 seconds each

Step 3: remove and drain on paper towel immediately

fried arugula

Conclusion

This soup was creamy and delicious! There was no after taste. It was a true replacement for cream. I couldn’t believe it! The flavor was amazing!

I encourage you to try this recipe. You will never look at cashews the same.

Enjoy!

Spicy Herb Pasta

May 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Spicy Herb Pasta

There is a bottle of spicy olive oil in the cabinet that has been untouched for weeks. Every time I reach in for something I hear it screaming at me. This recipe is just for you. Though it’s not apparent in the photos, you’re what makes this dish so good.

Serving Size: ~3-4

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. of whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 1/2-2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • ~1 tbsp of brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp of dried herbs*
  • 1 1/2 loose cups of fresh basil
  • Olive oil for sauteing
  • Spicy Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

* I used a mix of thyme, rosemary, sage & oregano. Use fresh herbs if available.

To Make:

Step 1: in a large pot, boil spaghetti (follow package instructions), drain and set aside

Trader Joe’s organic whole wheat spaghetti w/o the wheaty taste

Step 2: wash and slice tomatoes

Step 3: slice olives

Step 4: wash and cut basil (chiffonade if you wish)

Step 5: in a lightly oiled pan, saute tomatoes, olives and herbs on medium heat for 3-5 minutes

Step 6: sprinkle sugar, water and saute for 1-2 minutes

Step 7: in the same pan on low heat, mix in spaghetti, drizzle with spicy olive oil, add salt & pepper to taste

Step 8: turn off heat and mix in basil

Enjoy!

Tropical Granola Clusters

May 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

granola cluster

I stopped buying granola products because they never live up to my expectations. They’re often overly sweet with a slight cardboard flavor and makes me feel like I’m crunching pebbles.

I decided to make my own.

Originally, I planned on making granola bars. When I cut them, they turned out to be clusters. If you use more honey you’ll probably have some bars, but clusters are just as good. 🙂

The flavors work well together and taste delicious! Keep it in an airtight container as a snack or add some milk and have it as a cereal.

Feel free to use nuts instead of seeds, with or without coconut and choose fruits you like.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup of unsweetened coconut shreds
  • ~1- 1 1/2 cup of dried fruit*
  • 1/2-2/3 cup of honey
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • ~1/4 tsp of salt

*I used no sugar added apricots, dates, peaches, pears and apples.

To Make:

Step 1: Measure the dry ingredients

2 cups of oats

1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds

1 cup of shredded coconut

Step 2: Preheat oven to 350°F

Step 3: Put the ingredients measured above on a sheet pan for 10-12 minutes till lightly browned

before

before

after

after


Step 4: Measure dried fruit and cut into small pieces

Step 5: Mix toasted ingredients, honey, vanilla and salt

Step 6: Mix in fruit

Step 7: Pour mixture in pan and press down (I used a 9 1/2 x 9 1/2)

Step 8: Put it in the oven at 300°F for 35-40 minutes till edges are slightly brown (check on it around 30 mins.)

Step 9: Let it cool 

after it has cooled, cut and eat


Enjoy!

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