What I Ate Wednesday #39

Breakfast: A huge bowl of impeccably ripe summer fruit including cantaloupe, peaches, blueberries, and blackberries, all sprinkled with hemp seeds and goji berries, then topped with a dollop of cashew sour cream. I accompanied this exquisite bounty with a glass of green juice, which consisted of two apples, five leaves of kale, two baby cucumbers, and a peeled lime.

 

You’ll notice throughout this post that I did not incorporate any cooked whole grain into my meals; in fact, canned beans served as the only heated component of the food I enjoyed today. Perhaps reading the first few chapters of Becoming Raw unexpectedly impacted my dietary mentality, or perhaps my body simply yearns for the fresh, uncooked bounty of August’s gorgeous produce, especially during the sweltering heat. Whatever the impetus, lately I’ve thrived off of a high-raw diet, gravitating organically toward uncooked food and certainly not obsessing in the least about eating 100% raw meals. In any case, summer undoubtedly serves as the easiest and most natural season to revel in raw noms.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—hemp seeds, cashews. Whole Grain—none. Fruit—cantaloupe, peaches, blueberries, blackberries, goji berries, apples, lime. Leafy Green—kale. “Super Food”—hemp seeds, goji berries. Added Veggie Bonus!—cucumber.

Local Ingredients: Cantaloupe from Garden to Be, peaches from the Door County Fruit Market, blueberries from Flyte Family Farm, blackberries from Brantmeier Family Farm, apples from Westons’ Antique Apple Orchard, kale from my community garden plot, baby cucumbers from Canopy Gardens.

Morning Tea: Organic and Fair Trade Jamaica Red Rooibos from Rishi.

After ordering this as iced tea at Barriques, I hurried over to the Willy Street Co-op and snagged a bag full of the robust, fruity infusion from their bulk tea section to enjoy at home. This energizing blend of hibiscus, lemongrass, schizandra berries, rosehips, licorice root, orange peel, passion fruit, tangerine, mango, and clove quickly earned a coveted spot on my tea shelf.

Lunch: A salad of mixed greens (including purple amaranth leaves!), alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, sungold tomatoes, carrots, dulse seaweed flakes, and black beans, all tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing, topped with a scoop of kimchi, and served alongside two Raw Tacos from Roost.

 

An entertaining contrast of textures and flavors—spicy, chewy crunch from the chili-spiced walnut “meat”; cooling creaminess from both the guacamole and cashew sour cream; and juicy succulence from the tomatoes in the pico de gallo—the Raw Tacos serve as a delightful play on their cooked counterpart, though the fibrous napa cabbage leave wrappers proved a bit tough to bite through.

Meal Checklist: Protein—black beans, walnuts, cashews. Whole Grain—none. Vegetables—carrot, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, avocado, red onion, cilantro, jalapeno, purple bell pepper, garlic, kimchi veggies. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, dulse seaweed, cabbage in kimchi, napa cabbage leaves.

Local Ingredients: Carrots, jalapeno, and napa cabbage from Driftless Organics, sungold tomatoes from Singing Fawn Gardens, heirloom tomatoes from Snug Haven, alfalfa and mixed bean sprouts from Troy Community Farm, red onion and mixed greens from Jones Valley Farm, cilantro from Hickory Hill Farm, purple bell pepper from Pederson’s Produce (no website), garlic from Brantmeier Family Farm, kimchi from Fizzeology.

Afternoon Beverage: A tall glass of NessAlla Kombucha in Raspberry flavor.

Dinner: A nacho-esque, Southwestern-style version of the infamous vegan bowl layered as such: mixed greens, a large scoop of Raw Chili from Golubka, a couple torn-up BBQ Grissini from Earthsprout (acting as my “tortilla chips” of the nachos, if you will), a hearty serving of black beans, and a garnish of pico de gallo. I accompanied this with a Spiced Melon Shooter from Roost, topped with a small spoonful of cashew sour cream.

 

While I would highly recommend the recipes for both the BBQ Grissini and the Spiced Melon Shooters (a well-spiced raw bread stick and a complex-flavored creamy summer soup, respectively), the Raw Chili left me unimpressed, if not fairly disappointed, especially considering the usual genius of Golubka. I suspect that the eggplant, often bitter when uncooked or unsalted, harbored an off-putting flavor, or perhaps the intense earthiness of the portobello mushroom overpowered the dish. Whatever the culprit, I’ll stick with Cucina Libera’s more agreeable version of raw chili in the future.

Meal Checklist: Protein—black beans, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, cashews. Whole Grain—none. Vegetables (and fruits)—eggplant, portobello mushroom, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, red onion, garlic, sundried tomatoes, dates, parsley, cilantro, jalapeno, cantaloupe, avocado. Leafy Greens—mixed greens.

Local Ingredients: Eggplant and zucchini from my community garden plot, portobello mushrooms from Palm’s Mushroom Cellar (no website), heirloom tomatoes from Snug Haven, red onion and mixed greens from Jones Valley Farm, cilantro from Hickory Hill Farm, jalapeno from Driftless Organics, cantaloupe from Harmony Valley Farm, garlic from Brantmeier Family Farm.

Comment Provoking Questions: Do you find yourself eating more raw foods during the summer? Have you tried making raw chili? If so, what recipe did you use?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #38

Breakfast: A breakfast bowl, semi-inspired by the two Acai-granola bowls that Kristy at Keepin’ it Kind recently posted, of three layers: 1.) A small green smoothie of 1 frozen banana, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tsp each of wheatgrass and spirulina powders, 4 leaves of purple kale, and 1/2 cup hazelnut milk kefir. 2.) A generous cupful of my latest granola concoction—carob-cherry granola with cacao nibs and almonds. 3.) A glorious amalgamation of fresh farmers market fruit including red currants, blackberries, and cantaloupe.

When mother nature bestows upon you a rainbow of summer’s bounty in the form of dribble-down-your-chin ripe fruit, it seems like veritable sacrilige not to yield to the full flavor experience it provides in its pure (aka, not pureed into a smoothie) form. But I certainly wouldn’t have placed it on top of a bed of kale in order to meet my thrice-daily greens quota and called it breakfast. Enter the mini-smoothie/granola/fruit bowl, which satisfies my yearnings for leafy green goodies, crunchy granola clusters, and peak season fruit.

Speaking of the granola, I’ve developed a basic template for fruity cereal clusters based on my most recent recipes for Apricot Raisin and Chocolate Kale Granolas. This car0b-cherry granola with cacao nibs and almonds consists of 5 dates, 1 lb fresh cherries, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 2 tbsp carob powder, and 1 tbsp vanilla extract, all pureed and combined with 3 cups gluten-free rolled oats, 1 cup raw buckwheat, 1 cup flaxseed meal, and 1/2 cup chopped almonds.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—hazelnut milk kefir, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, almonds (last two in granola). Whole Grain—GF rolled oats and buckwheat in granola. Fruit—banana, red currants, blackberries, cantaloupe, dates, cherries (last two in granola). Leafy Green—purple kale. “Super Food”—chia seeds, spirulina, wheatgrass powder, carob powder, flaxseed meal, cacao nibs (last three in granola).

Local Ingredients: Purple kale from Harmony Valley Farm, red currants and blackberries from Carandale Farm, cantaloupe from a stand at the Dane County Farmers Market of which I cannot recall the name.

Morning Tea: Eden Organic Genmaicha Green Tea.

Mid-Morning Beverage: A tall glass of NessAlla Kombucha in Peach Blush flavor.

Lunch: A typical gigantic salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, basil, pea shoots, sungold and zebra cherry tomatoes, carrots, about 1/2 cup each of quinoa and kidney beans, and a sprinkling of dulse flakes, all tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing, topped with a dollop of cortido, and accompanied by two of Lisa Viger’s Stuffed Squash Blossoms.

 

Squash blossoms, the bright yellow flowers growing amongst the gigantic green leaves of zucchini plants, currently abound in my community garden plot, and I can’t stuff them with creamy spreads fast enough! My first squash-blossom-stuffing endeavor involved Lisa’s recipe for raw squash blossoms filled with a brightly flavored puree of avocado, walnuts, lemon juice, and tarragon mixed with crunchy bits of red onion, though my next blossom adventure hopefully will feature Golubka’s baba-ganoush-inspired roasted eggplant filling (especially considering the huge globe eggplant I just harvested from my garden).

Meal Checklist: Protein—kidney beans, walnuts. Whole Grain—quinoa. Vegetables—carrot, cherry tomatoes, basil, alfalfa sprouts, pea shoots, squash blossoms, avocado, tarragon, red onion, cortido veggies. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, dulse seaweed, cabbage in cortido.

Local Ingredients: Carrots from Driftless Organics, sungold tomatoes from Young Earth Farm, zebra tomatoes from Canopy Gardens, basil from my backyard herb garden, alfalfa sprouts from Troy Community Farm, pea shoots from Garden to Be, squash blossoms from Hickory Hill, tarragon from the Plahnt Farm, cortido from Fizzeology, red onion from Jones Valley Farm.

Afternoon Beverage: A bottle of “Green Zinger” juice from the Willy Street Co-op of apples, kale, lemon, ginger, and wheatgrass.

Though I’ve used my own juicer quite often this summer, I found myself on the East Side of Madison on this particular Wednesday and simply could not pass up the opportunity to partake in one of the Willy Street Co-op’s impeccably squeezed, refreshing juices.

Dinner: A heaping helping of Jeanine’s Edamame and Corn Succotash alongside a scoop of quinoa.

While I truly appreciated the wide array of stunning summer produce featured in this succotash recipe, I found that the directions it gave left the dish to fall short of its true potential, particularly in the surprisingly short cooking times it suggested. For example, the green beans in the dish tasted raw rather than satisfyingly crisp-tender, while the fresh sweet corn maintained its pastel yellow hue instead of adopting a vibrant hue. However, redolent with bright herbs, slightly creamy from a splash of coconut milk, and studded with bits of crunchy walnuts, the succotash’s flavor ultimately overpowered any of its potential cooking mishaps.

Meal Checklist: Protein—edamame, walnuts. Whole Grain—quinoa. Vegetables—red onion, garlic, thyme, purple bell pepper, jalapeno, green beans, corn, basil, orange mint. Leafy Greens—arugula.

Local Ingredients: Red onion from Jones Valley Farm, garlic from Brantmeier Family Farm, purple bell pepper and jalapeno from Pederson’s Produce (no website), green beans and sweet corn from an unknown stand at the farmers market, basil and thyme from my backyard herb garden, orange mint from the Plahnt Farm, arugula from Harmony Valley Farm.

Comment Provoking Questions: Have you ever had a “breakfast bowl” or stuffed squash blossoms? What is your favorite summer fruit or filling for squash blossoms? Do you tend to cook dishes for longer, shorter, or the same amount of time called for by a recipe?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

Carrot Citrus Juice

Putzing around my basement on a recent afternoon, I ventured into a seldom-visited, cupboard-sized room overflowing with handpainted ceramic plates and mugs from my crafty childhood, out-of-commission blender motors, hopelessly tarnished silverware, and stacks of Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines dating back to the mid-1980’s. An unfamiliar off-white, bulky appliance peeking out from behind a set of unused ramekins caught my eye, and I proceeded to unearth the robot-like machine from its dusty cellar tomb. Turning over the apparatus in my hands, I examined the circular, fanged metal gizmo that whirred when switched on; the plastic repository that fed into a small pointed spout positioned beneath the metal gizmo; and the cone-shaped lid with an open-topped protruding cylinder that locked into the plastic repository beneath the metal gizmo. An unexpected gust of realization rushed through my mind as I envisioned myself feeding a carrot into the cylinder, only to observe its sweet vegetable nectar flowing out of the spout and into an expectant drinking glass—I had discovered a juicer.

Bounding up the stairs and into the kitchen where my mother poured herself a glass of lemonade, I admonished her for not disclosing the juicer’s existence to me at my first lamentation of my lack of homemade juice at least two years prior. After performing a cinematic double-take at the motorized baby I cradled, my mother professed having erased the juicer from her memory, but now recalled that she had recieved it as a wedding gift almost twenty years ago. My heart sagged—a twenty-year-old juicer couldn’t possibly harbor the horsepower (excuse the animal-exploitative language) to adequately extract the liquid essence of classic hearty juicing vegetables like carrots, broccoli, and beets, or that of thick-skinned fruits and veggies like cucumbers and apples…or could it?

I promptly emptied the refrigerator of all fruits and vegetables that possessed juicing potential, whirred up the ancient juicer, and gingerly inserted a carrot into the machine (just like in my basement epiphany). To my great surprise, a stream of bright orange liquid spewed forth from the appliance’s spout. I sent through a stalk of broccoli, a wedge of beet, a stick of cucumber, a slice of apple, a leaf of kale—this baby could juice anything! Performing a veritable happy dance around my kitchen, I beamed at my newfound ability to concoct fresh juices every single day in my very own home—the blissful experience about which I’ve dreamed since the onset of my veganism.

In my juicing experiments, I’ve produced many revitalizing, colorful beverages, as well as a couple downright disgusting liquids that no one’s taste buds should ever have the misfortune to experience (never juice a radish, people). After a couple “clean-out-the-fridge” juices that utilized a cornucopia of produce, I’ve discovered that I prefer simpler tasting juices that highlight the flavor purity of each fruit and veggie. This particular juice of carrot, orange, and lemon accomplishes exactly this task—the subtlely sweet, earthiness of the carrot mingles lusciously with the citrusy zing of the orange and lemon, providing an astoundingly refreshing summer drink that even those hesitant to vegetable juice will enjoy.

Carrot Citrus Juice (Raw, Nut Free, Oil Free, Soy Free)

Makes about 12 ounces.

Ingredients:

3 medium carrots, sliced lengthwise into quarters or halves depending on the carrot’s girth
1 orange, peeled
1/2 lemon, peeled

Feed each ingredient through a juicer. Drink immediately.

Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend.

Local Ingredients: Carrots from Driftless Organics.

Comment Provoking Questions: What old kitchenware do you keep in your basement? Have you ever discovered anything worthwhile down there? How old is your juicer and does is still work well?

Until next time, Ali.

Orange-Tarragon Sun Tea

Wrapping a fuzzy blanket around your shoulders, snuggling up against a fluffy pillow, staring deep into the glowing embers as they lick the sides of the fireplace, peacefully sipping on a steaming mug of tea—all activities I would absolutely not fathom partaking in during May’s 90° weather! However, right behind good ol’ water and my daily glass of Kombucha, tea serves as my go-to beverage, the comforting qualities and health benefits of which I couldn’t stand to lose during the summer months. Unfortunately, yesterday (and on other stiflingly muggy days) tea presented the unpleasant challenge of pouring hot liquid into my vinyasa-yoga-flowed out, already sticky-sweaty body. No thank you.

Luckily, there exists a magical solution for transforming a contemplative mug of warming tea into a refreshing beverage for the warm-weather months: sun tea. Yes, tea brewed by the sun. Can you imagine a more hippie-esque drink? Well, those hippies certainly have something up their sleeve with this ridiculously easy, infinitely variable, and deliciously cooling version of tea. The laughably simple brewing process consists of filling a large pitcher with cold water, throwing in a couple tea bags, sticking it in a sunny spot outside, and chilling it in the refrigerator. If you’d like to complicate the “recipe” a bit by incorporating a couple flavorful additions, fresh herbs and fruits/citrus offer lovely layers of complexity. My favorite combinations include lemon+rosemary, strawberries+basil, and orange+tarragon which I’ve chosen to highlight here.

Orange-Tarragon Sun Tea (Raw if using raw tea, Soy Free, Oil Free, Nut Free)

Makes as much as you like, really.

Ingredients:

  • A large pitcher full of cold water
  • Mild-flavored tea bags (I used 4 bags of Kukicha for 8 cups of water, but any unflavored green or black tea would work well. Adjust the number of tea bags to how strong you’d like your finished sun tea).
  • Fresh tarragon, chopped fine
  • Orange slices

Place the tea bags in the pitcher filled with water. Set in a sunny spot outside for 4-6 hours depending on the desired strength of your tea. Remove the tea bags. Stir in the tarragon and orange slices. Place in the refrigerator and let chill for a couple hours to allow the flavors to meld and to cool down from the sun’s heat. Serve over ice, pouring through a strainer to avoid tranferring the chopped tarragon into your glass, if you like.

Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend.

Thus, I happily satisfied my daily tea quota with a cooling, refreshing, fruity, flavorful beverage. A win-win situation, no doubt.

Comment Provoking Questions: What are your go-to summer beverages? Do you still drink hot tea during the summer? What are your favorite fruit/herb combinations?

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #29

Breakfast: A smoothie of frozen pineapple, a baby cucumber, a frozen banana, 1/2 a small bunch of red russian kale, a couple sprigs of nettle, 1/2 tsp wheatgrass powder, and 3/4 cup Just Greens Juice  (a blend of celery, cucumber, spinach, mustard greens, kale, collards, and parsley) from Columbia Gorge, topped with a heaping 1/2 cup of Citrus Summer Lentil Granola from Healthful Pursuit.

Using vegetable juice as the liquid in smoothies provides another avenue by which to impart even more nutritional richness—this particular bottle of Just Greens Juice offers a staggering two pounds of veggies’ worth of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Gotta love that juicing!

In regards to the granola, I’ve never tasted such a bright, summery blend of whole grains, nuts, and seeds before. The orange zest and cardamom truly sing, transforming an average cereal into a stunning, flavorful morning treat. On second thought, I couldn’t quite call this granola recipe “average.” Featuring sprouted lentils, quinoa flakes, and puffed amaranth, Leanne’s unique breakfast utilizes a plethora of whole grains and legumes to create an intensely crunchy, satisfying wake-up meal. I did, however, tweak the original recipe a bit (what a surprise) by substituting GF rolled oats for the brown rice crisp cereal and replacing both the honey and 2 tbsp coconut oil with a mixture of 1/4 cup applesauce+2 tbsp almond butter+1 tbsp coconut oil.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—sprouted red lentils, almond butter (both in granola)Whole Grain—quinoa flakes, GF rolled oats, puffed amaranth (all in granola). Fruit—pineapple, banana, applesauce in granola. Leafy Green—nettles, kale. “Super Food”—wheatgrass powder, flax meal in granola. Added Veggie Bonus!—cucumber, green juice.

Local Ingredients: Nettles from Hickory Hill Farm, kale from Jones Valley Farm, cucumber from Canopy Gardens.

Morning Tea: Organic Vanilla Rooibos from Equal Exchange.

Lunch Box: A large handful of gorgeous mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts (including chickpeas, lentils, and beluga peas), “farmhouse mix” sprouts (including pea shoots, buckwheat sprouts, and microgreens), a scant 1/2 cup black beans, a super sweet carrot, and a couple cherry tomatoes (so succulent you wouldn’t believe they grew in a greenhouse!), all tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with a large dollop of kimchi as well as three of Heidi Swanson’s Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls.

Somehow, I managed to exactly follow Heidi’s original recipe for the brown rice balls…okay, I made an incredibly minor change by using sweet, sticky brown rice (aka mochi) instead of regular short-grain brown rice. So sue me. As per Heidi’s suggestion, I opted to tuck small cubes of tofu into the middle of the adorable whole-grain parcels. Nutty, crunchy, sticky, smooth, and chewy all in a three-bite orb of yumminess.

Meal Checklist: Protein—black beans; tofu, almonds, and sesame seeds in rice balls. Whole Grain—mochi brown rice in rice balls. Vegetables—alfalfa sprouts, bean sprouts, mixed sprouts, carrot, tomatoes, kimchi veggies, scallions in rice balls. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, cabbage in kimchi.

Local Ingredients: Mixed greens from Jones Valley Farm, alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts from Troy Gardens“farmhouse mix” sprouts from Garden to Bekimchi from Fizzeology, cherry tomatoes from Canopy Gardens, scallions from JenEhr Family Farm.

Afternoon Snack: A tall glass of NessAlla Kombucha in Raspberry flavor.

Dinner: One of the most visually spectacular and stunningly complex salads I’ve experienced in a long while—the Asparagus & Zucchini Ribbon “Pasta” Plate (I used carrot instead of zucchini) from Addicted to Veggies, augmented with chickpeas, atop a bed of purslane and cooked buckwheat, drizzled in Creamy Miso Garlic Sauce (also from Addicted to Veggies).

My changes to the original recipe: substituted carrot for the zucchini since the latter is not in season yet, replaced the fresh dill with basil and parsley, omitted the chopped almonds, added a can of chickpeas.

Holy medley of intense flavors, Batman! Every single ingredient in this intricate salad packs a punch of deliciousness and proves integral to the dish as a whole: the slightly dehydrated carrot and asparagus provide a subltely toothsome base of veggies, the dry dill/pumpkin seed mixture coats the vegetable ribbons with a mysterious savory taste sensation, the bell pepper as well as the raisins offer a bright pop of flavor and a juicy texture, the sundried olives and tomatoes provide a satisfying salty-savory component, the shallot lends a hint of sweet oniony personality, the chickpeas add protein and a creamy-smooth bite, and the herbs…well, who doesn’t love a hearty dose of herbs in every dish? Drizzled with a succulent sauce of cashews and miso, this salad launched me into pure gastronomical bliss.

I also want to quickly mention purslane—my new favorite salad green. Supposedly favored by none other than Ghandi himself, purslane contains a bounty of omega-3 fatty acids, powerful antioxidants (including vitamins A, C, and E), and plenty of iron, magnesium, and potassium. Purslane has a delicate, incredibly refreshing flavor and shimmery leaves that initially provide a smooth mouthfeel yet succumb with a slight crunch.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, cashews in sauce. Whole Grain—buckwheat. Vegetables—asparagus, carrot, bell pepper, olives, sundried tomatoes, shallot, basil, parsley, garlic. Leafy Greens—purslane.

Local Ingredients: Asparagus from Sutter’s Ridge Farm, bell pepper and basil from Canopy Gardens, shallot and parsley from the Plahnt Farm, purslane from Jones Valley Farm, garlic from Brantmeier Family Farm.

Comment Provoking Questions: Have you tried using prepared juices in your smoothies? What sorts of flavorful additions take your granola recipes to the next level? Are you familiar with mochi rice? Or purslane?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

What I Ate Wednesday #26

Pausing briefly from my series of Philadelphia posts, I’m happy, as always, to participate in this week’s What I Ate Wednesday!

Upon Waking: A cup of warm water mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice to stimulate metabolism and digestion (unpictured—who can remember a camera at 5:00 am?).

Breakfast: A rather unappetizingly colored, though assuredly yummy and wonderfully nutritious, smoothie of 1/2 avocado, 1 medium peeled chiogga beet, 1 tbsp hemp seeds, 1/2 tsp spirulina, 1/2 tsp wheatgrass powder, 4 large leaves of lacinato kale, 1 large frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen cherries, 1 cup frozen mixed berries, and 3/4 cup Popeye Juice (a blend of carrot, beet, and spinach) from the Willy Street Coop, topped with a generous serving of (unpictured) brown rice puffs.

The latest addition to my “superfood” powder collection: wheatgrass! Since only the grain of the wheat plant causes adverse reaction in those with gluten intolerences, wheatgrass is an a-ok nutritional powerhouse for those with gluten no-no’s.

Breakfast Checklist: Protein—hemp seeds. Whole Grain—brown rice puffs. Fruit—avocado, banana, cherries, mixed berries. Leafy Green—kale, spinach in juice. “Super Food”—hemp seeds, spirulina, wheatgrass powder. Added Veggie Bonus!—beet, carrot in juice.

Local Ingredients: Chiogga beets from GittOrganic, juice from the Willy Street Coop.

Morning Tea: Organic Vanilla Rooibos from Equal Exchange.

Mid-Morning Snack: About half of a bottle of Inner Peace Juice from the Willy Street Coop—an awakening blend of carrot, celery, spinach, parsley, and lemon.

Lunch Box: Mixed lettuces, alfalfa sprouts, “farmhouse mix” sprouts, mixed bean sprouts, yellow carrot, roasted sweet potato, 1/2 cup sprouted brown rice, and 1/2 cup kidney beans tossed in Liquid Gold Dressing and topped with a large dollop of cortido and a sprinkling of dulse seaweed.

Meal Checklist: Protein—kidney beans. Whole Grain—sprouted brown rice. Vegetables—alfalfa sprouts, mixed sprouts, bean sprouts, carrot, sweet potato, cortido veggies. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, cabbage in cortido, dulse seaweed.

Local Ingredients: Alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts from Troy Gardens, carrots from JenEhr Family Farm, farmhouse mix sprouts from Garden to Becortido from Fizzeology.

Afternoon Snack: A bottle of GT’s Organic Enlightened Synergy Kombucha in Strawberry Serenity flavor.

Even though I adore supporting my local all-women Kombucha brew team at NessAlla, how could I resist the sale on GT’s Kombucha at the co-op this month? Only $2.43 per bottle, for goodness sake! Needless to say, I snagged six bottles this Saturday to last me through the entire week.

Dinner: Three (only one is pictured) marinated and roasted portabella mushrooms, each topped with a scoop of sprouted brown rice, a sprinkling of chickpeas, and a saute of dandelion greens and fiddlehead ferns, accompanied by four succulent braised ramps.

My method for dinner:

  1. Marinate the portabellas and ramps (separate the green leaves from the white/red bulbs) for 1-2 hours in 3/4 cup vegetable broth, 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar, the juice and zest of one lemon, and 1/2 cup each of cilantro and parsley.
  2. Roast the portabellas gill-side down in a 425°F oven for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tsp coconut or olive oil in a skillet and saute the ramp bulbs (reserving the greens) for about 5 minutes. Pour the reserved marinade, not including the ramp leaves, into the skillet. Bring the liquid to a boil, then turn down to low and braise the ramps for about 10 minutes, or until almost completely tender.
  4. When the ramp bulbs have almost finished cooking, turn the heat up to medium and add in the fiddlehead ferns. Saute for about three minutes, then add in the ramp greens and dandelion greens. Saute for another 3 minutes or so, until the greens are just wilted.
  5. To serve, lay a portabella mushroom gill-side up on a plate and layer with a bit of cooked brown rice, chickpeas, and your green saute mixture. Lay the braised ramp bulbs alongside for a satisfying spring meal.

Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas. Whole Grain—sprouted brown rice. Vegetables—portabella mushrooms, cilantro, parsley, lemon, ramps, fiddlehead ferns. Leafy Greens—dandelion greens.

Local Ingredients: Cilantro from Blue Skies Berry Farm, ramps from Harmony Valley Farm, fiddlehead ferns from Hickory Hill Farm, dandelion greens from Keewaydin Farms.

Comment Provoking Questions: What is your favorite juice blend? Do you make your own juice or buy it at a juice bar/natural foods store? What’s your take on wheatgrass? Have you ever cooked with fiddlehead ferns before? What is your favorite marinade for portabella mushrooms?

Happy WIAW!

Until next time, Ali.

Philly Day 1, Part 1: Sweet Freedom Bakery and Lots of Juice

Last Thursday, my mother and I jetted out to Philadelphia to peruse the idyllic campus at Bryn Mawr College. Our journey, though quite enjoyable, reinforced my deep desire to attend Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, simply because it proved that not even the most gorgeous campus, strongest-willed female student body, or unique amalgamation of courses can, in my eyes, exceed the perfection of Vassar.

However, one cannot spend an entire two days touring a college campus, no matter how picturesque. Thus, my mother and I partook in a number of vegan eating adventures around the city, all superbly yummy. I plan for this series of Philly posts to span three parts, the first of which, today’s, focuses on Friday morning and afternoon.

By the time our air travel ceased on Thursday night and we had finally trudged up to our hotel room, the clock had struck an ungodly 1:00 am, three-and-a-half excruciating hours past my usual bedtime. Needless to say, I tumbled into dreamland immediately upon contact with my pillow, awakening fairly late in the morning. In no rush, I headed to the hotel workout room before preparing for an active day in Philadelphia, finally venturing into the downtown area with my mother by 11:30.

I hadn’t mapped out a breakfast/brunch restaurant prior to arriving in Philly (shocker, I know! Usually I plan in detail my “restaurant schedule,” if you will, when traveling), but a quick search for “juice bar” on HappyCow.net returned The Basic 4 Vegetarian Snack Bar at the Reading Terminal Market, deep in the heart of downtown. Strolling through the indoor market’s wide array of international eateries, herb and soap shops, and handmade jewelry stands, my mother and I regarded our unintended visit as an extremely lucky one and marveled at the market’s slew of cultures. After exploring a bit, we stumbled upon our vegan merchant, where I ordered a large juice of carrot, apple, and celery. The snack bar also featured a deli case full of create-your-own salad fixings, meatless “hoagies”, and veggie patties, but none of the fare appealed to me at 11:30 in the morning.

Further wandering through the market, we happened upon yet another juicy stand called the Four Seasons Juice Bar. Ravenous that morning, being the juice fiend I am, and craving my morning leafy greens, I partook in another juice of carrot, kale, and spinach with a shot of wheatgrass. This blend satisfied me intensely more than the first, most likely due to its richness in greens and its refreshingly cold temperature.

Just look at all the wheatgrass! My mother proudly displays it.

Ahh, lovely green juice.

Sufficiently full of delicious liquid nutrition but craving more fibrous, solid fare, I proposed walking down the main drag in downtown Philly to stop by Sweet Freedom Bakery, the city’s gem of a vegan, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free bakery—my kind of place! For all you Cupcake Wars fans out there, the bakery also battled it out on the Food Network competition, holding its own against the mainstream animal-and-gluten-based bakeries. At first glimpse of the bakery’s sunny baby blue exterior, I felt immediately at home—a sense which only intensified as I entered to discover a glass case full of tantalizing baked goodies, a small refrigerator boasting both coconut water and kombucha, and this joyful sign:

Read: Everything is PERFECT for Ali!

Case of cupcakes, donuts, cookie sandwiches, and fruit crumble bars.

Bright, welcoming facade.

After sufficiently fawning over the mouthwatering array of wholesome sweets and seriously contemplating our choices, I opted for two fruit-filled bars—one blueberry-oat crumble and one lemon-raspberry drizzled in a lemon-coconut glaze—while my mother settled on a fat slice of carrot-raisin bread with a vanilla glaze. Reveling in both the gorgeously sunny day and our positively delectable treats, we happily munched at a table in front of the bakery.

Both of my bars’ crusts offered a pleasingly crumbly texture, contrasted with the smooth, not-overly-sweet fruit filling. The oats sprinkled on top imparted a nice crunch, though I half wished that the blueberry bar had featured walnuts in the topping. While I verily enjoyed both of my treats, I willingly admitted that my mother’s choice proved the most delicious. Unbelievably moist, densely textured, studded with gems of plump raisins, and superbly spiced, the thick slab of carrot-raisin loaf fulfilled every requirement of a perfect baked good—and without the use of animal secretions, gluten, or white sugar (the bakery relies upon coconut sugar for their sweetening needs)!

Our tummies contentedly full of impeccably tasty, healthy baked goods, my mother and I hopped in the car to journey to the Bryn Mawr campus for our college tour and eagerly awaited our dinner reservations at the acclaimed Vedge restaurant later that night…but I’ll have to save that for my next post.

Until next time, Ali.