Matcha Green Tea Latte

Do you ever find a product that is so outstanding you just have to share it? Well, sometimes I do, and this is one of those times. I should mention at the beginning that I am not being paid for this review. I simply believe that when a product performs above and beyond your expectations, it deserves to be noticed.

I like to start my day with green tea… and not just any green tea. Each morning I enjoy lingering over a tall vegan Matcha Latte. Tea is very important to me, so I have tried many different brands of matcha. Some are good, and some are just meh. The very best I have had so far is Rishi Ceremonial Matcha (organic, single origin). You can find this tea at many retail outlets and online: http://www.rishi-tea.com

There is absolutely nothing bad about this tea. It mixes well and creates a decent layer of foam when I mix it with my little electric whisk. (Hint: If you do use an electric whisk be sure to also use a tall mug. Fill the mug 1/3 full with boiling water and a spoonful of matcha powder. Then, and this is the important part, completely immerse the whisk BEFORE turning it on. Otherwise you will have green matcha tea splashing everywhere!) When you are satisfied with the quality of the mix and the foam you can add more boiling water, sweetener, and non-dairy creamer if desired. The foam and flavor last even after adding plant-based creamer.

Additionally, the little container in which this tea comes deserves mention. It’s round, as every loose tea container should be — no nasty corners to trap that last bit of tea you just can’t dig out no matter how hard you try. The outer lid glides off easily and the little tab on the inner seal that helps you easily remove that seal without breaking a fingernail — inspired!

You may wonder why I am so passionate about this tea. Well, it’s not only delicious, but it also contains a healthy dose of L-theanine. Along with caffeine, L-theanine helps to increase focus and attention, ease anxiety and stress, and helps you to relax without causing drowsiness.* Sounds like the ideal way to start your day, right?

Several studies have also found that the antioxidants in green tea could enhance the function of the body’s immune system, decreasing upper respiratory tract infections and preventing flu symptoms. Right now it is more important than ever to bolster your natural immune system. Sipping this creamy Matcha Latte is a delicious way to do that. Drink to your health!

https://www.healthline.com/health/l-theanine

Recipe: Mock Crab Cakes (carrot cakes)

Do you juice? I try to drink one or two glasses of carrot juice everyday. It always bothers me to throw away the carrot pulp after juicing, so I’ve found some creative ways to use it (besides compost). This is one recipe I make often, and everyone seems to like it. The ingredients aren’t exact and you can adjust them according to the amount of carrot pulp you are using and your personal preference. The one thing I keep constant is the equal ratio of carrot pulp and cooked brown rice.

Ingredients:

Equal amounts of fresh carrot pulp and cooked brown rice. This is also a good way to use up leftover cooked rice. It should look something like this. I didn’t measure exact amounts, but this looks like about 2 cups of each which yielded 8 burger-size “crab” cakes.

1 cup finely chopped mixed sweet red and green peppers

1/2 finely chopped onion

1 – 2 cloves pressed garlic

1 – 2 Tbsp. Braggs Liquid Amino Acids (or soy sauce), to taste

1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

1 sheet Nori (sea vegetable), cut into small flakes

1 – 2 egg substitute (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer). Instead of mixing the Egg Replacer with water I mixed it with carrot juice.

And finally, Italian seasoned bread crumbs (enough to hold it all together when molded into cakes)

Procedure:

Put all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. You want the mixture to hold together and not be crumbly. With your hands form handfuls of mixture into oval or round shaped patties (round if you are serving them on a bun), about 3/4 inch thick. Wetting your hands during this process helps keep the mixture from sticking to your hands.

Fry patties, several at a time, in a large lightly oiled, heavy frying pan. I use grapeseed oil or light olive oil — not the extra virgin kind (save extra virgin olive oil for your salad dressings). You can also bake them on a prepared pan in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, brush cakes lightly with more oil, and turn once. (Baking is easier because it doesn’t require your full attention, but the cakes will be slightly less firm.) Today I baked them on a parchment lined pan after brushing both sides with grapeseed oil. Baked or fried, these are delicious!

Serve these imitation seafood treats with a sauce made from Vegenaise and bottled horseradish or ketchup mixed with horseradish. Make it as tangy as you like.

A yummy departure from the typical veggie burger. Enjoy!

CREAMY ASPARAGUS RICE CASSEROLE

This is the best plant-based comfort food, perfect on a cold winter day! It doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients, and you can mix and bake it all in the same casserole.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups No Chicken Broth or Boullion

2 1/2 cups water

1 – 1.5 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces

2 Tbsp. melted organic butter or plant-based spread

1 tsp. sea salt

3 cloves minced garlic

1 cup uncooked arborio rice

3/4 cup red lentils

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You will need a big (3 qt) glass casserole dish or oven-safe pasta bowl.

Place all the prepared ingredients, except the broth and water, in the casserole dish.

Heat broth and water unil hot, and pour over all ingredients in casserole.

Stir well and cover.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir, recover, and bake another 30 minutes.

Check to see if rice is cooked and creamy. If not, stir, recover, and cook for another 10 minutes or until done.

What Does a Vegan Eat for Breakfast?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This may be a simple question for some to answer, but believe it or not, it is a real delemma for people trying to transition to a plant-based lifestyle. They are confused about what to eat in the morning. Changing lifelong habits can be baffling, especially when you first wake up. This is understandable if you are used to the standard bacon and egg breakfast or a quick doughnut and coffee grabbed on the way to work. If you are not a morning person and don’t wake up with the energy and motivation to follow a recipe and actually cook your first meal of the day, then your plan to eat more healthfully can be derailed before the day even begins. Here to help are some suggestions for easy plant-based breakfasts that require little to no preparation:

First of all, think outside the box. What leftovers are in your frig.? Leftover cooked brown rice, quinoa, corn grits, barley or millet sweetened with maple syrup or rice syrup and topped with fruit, nuts, seeds and any plant milk you prefer is a healthy alternative to boxed cereal. You can eat this cold or warm — it will be delicious either way.

Muesli is a raw whole grain cereal usually made from oats combined with dried fruit, nuts and seeds. It is more expensive than granola in the stores, but it is simple to make in large batches, so all you need to do in the morning is scoop some into a bowl. Here is an easy-to-make-ahead muesli recipe: https://vegtutor.com/2020/08/05/homemade-muesli/

For an even more basic breakfast idea: raw fruit and nuts can’t be beat. If you prefer, you may substitute natural nut butter instead of nuts and use it as a dip for sliced whole fruit. All natural, and so simple that even a child can prepare it! Each of these ideas contains enough protein to keep you fueled all morning, and that is important. A little protein in each meal will help you avoid food cravings between meals.

Toasted wholegrain bread or bagel topped with mashed ripe avocado, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkle of salt is another option for those who want something more savory.

Photo by Kasumi Loffler on Pexels.com

Of course, you could always go the way of veggie bacon and egg substitutes, and that is okay for a rare treat, but not every day. Fake animal substitutes are overly processed and should not be a regular part of your healthy diet. If you habitually use fake animal foods as a crutch, then you will never learn to appreciate the flavors and health benefits of real whole plant foods… the foods your body was designed to thrive on. If you train yourself to eat as close to the garden as possible, you can’t go wrong!

Moonshadows Restaurant, 132 E. Main Street, Luray, VA 22835. Phone: 540-743-1911

We discovered Moonshadows Restaurant quite by accident as we strolled around Historic Downtown Luray, VA. (If you visit Luray Caverns, then treat yourself to spending some time exploring the quaint shops and delightful park along Main Street in Luray). Moonshadows has been lovingly restored, and has been awarded the Travelers’ Choice 2020 Best of the Best Award for good reason. Everything from the decor to the artwork, the staff and their unique menu says “quality upscale yet casual dining.” It was a sunny fall day, so because our little dog accompanied us, we couldn’t resist the tables available on Moonshadows’ inviting front porch. Arriving just ahead of the lunch crowd, we didn’t need a reservation, but soon after we were seated the place quickly filled up, and disappointed diners without reservations were being turned away. So, please make reservations ahead of your visit to be guaranteed a seat.

As soon as our order was placed we were pleasantly surprised when our tea appeared with complimentary blueberry scones. And, I must mention that I just love those placemats! Don’t you?

Moonshadows’ distinctive menu offers fresh locally grown recipes with options for every dietary preference. I ordered the Parsnip Black Bean Rosti (you have your choice of one or two) which is a pan-fried potato cake with black bean, parsnip risoto filling accented with herbs and spices along with seasonal vegetables and golden beet puree. My husband chose the Spanish Frittata Pie with a side Caesar Salad. Both dishes were delicious and came with a small fruit appetizer.

For dessert we shared the gluten-free flourless chocolate cake. I am sorry there is no photo, but trust me — it was delicious and large enough for two to share. You must save room for that treat!

Moonshadows is one restaurant that will stay on our list of places to visit when we’re in VA. Everything about our experience there was perfect, and unlike some meals you settle for when traveling, we felt we had eaten real, healthy, gourmet food. Prices are reasonable, servers pleasant and informative, setting casual and friendly. Don’t forget too call ahead for reservations!

To learn more about Moonshadows please visit their website: http://www.moonshadowsonmain.com

Vegan Coconut Pumpkin Custard

It’s still pumpkin season, so here is another delectable fall recipe you will love. This one has all the flavor of pumpkin pie, but without the fat and calories contained in typical pie crust. I never eat the crust anyway because let’s face it — the filling is the best part, right? This custard is so rich and creamy, with slight caramel undertones, that it will surely become one of your fall favorites.

I used homemade pumpkin puree, not canned pumpkin, in this recipe. In Autumn I like to decorate inside and out with natural elements, so we usually have several pumpkins to sacrifice as we move toward Christmas. You probably do, too. I want to caution you, however — the typical Halloween jack-o-lantern pumpkin is not the one you want to use for this recipe (or any pumpkin pie or custard recipe). When the season is past, Halloween pumpkins are best left to feed the wild squirrels and bunnies. Those pumpkins simply don’t have enough pulp, color, or flavor to make a good pumpkin custard. Instead, Cinderella pumpkins are the best!

These are Cinderella Pumpkins, also called Storybook or Fairytale Pumpkins (think Cinderella’s coach).

And here is a link to video instructions on how to roast your Cinderella pumpkin: https://youtu.be/FApTV4FoQ58 After roasting the pumpkin, when it cools a bit, I puree it using either a stick blender or the countertop blender so the roasted pulp is free of any strings or lumps. This puree freezes well, so freeze extra two-cup portions to use in pumpkin recipes all year long.

COCONUT CUSTARD RECIPE (please read to the end before starting)

(Makes six 2/3 cup servings)

Ingredients:

One 13.5 oz. can full fat coconut milk

2 cups homemade pumpkin puree

1/2 – 3/4 cup organic sugar (to your taste)

Egg-Replacer* equal to 5 large eggs. (You can use Ener-G Egg Replacer or make your own)*

1/2 tsp. Himalayan pink salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. cinnamon

a pinch of ground cloves

About 1 Tbsp. cinnamon/sugar mixture to sprinkle on top

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray six 1-cup ovenproof custard cups with cooking spray.

With a mixer, whisk, or blender beat coconut milk, sugar, Egg-Replacer (Because homemade pumpkin puree is quite moist, do not add water. Use just the amount of powdered egg-replacer to equal 5 eggs), extract, and spices until well mixed. Pour into prepared custard cups. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon sugar mixture.

Make a water bath by filling a 9″ x 13″ baking dish with 4 cups of hot water. Place each filled custard cup in the baking dish.

Carefully place the baking dish on the center rack in preheated oven, and bake 35 – 40 minutes. (It will look only semi-done, but custard will firm up completely as it cools). Transfer each cup to a wire rack to cool, then cover cups and regrigerate until serving.

Garnish with non-dairy whipped topping and/or a few raw pepitas.

*How to Make Your Own Powdered Egg Replacer:

2 1/2 cups potato starch (not potato flour)

1 1/2 cups organic Non-GMO cornstarch, or tapioca starch, or tapioca flour

2/3 cup aluminum-free baking powder

1/2 cup baking soda

Measure all ingredients into a bowl, and whisk together to mix. Store in a tightly covered jar, and use as needed.

This recipe makes the equivalent of 45 – 50 eggs and works best in baking and cooking recipes. (It does not perform well in meringues).

To use: 1/2 slightly rounded Tbsp. powder + 2 Tbsp. water = 1 egg

Pre-race Dinner Idea

Two of our daughters and daughter-in-law are running an early half-marathon race tomorrow. Tonight they wanted a light, but protein-packed dinner — something that would fuel their race, but not weigh them down. So, they put their heads together and came up with this beautiful plant-based veggie bowl.

Quinoa, marinated tofu, and spiced chickpeas provided the protein. The colorful veggies included: roasted squash and mushrooms, onions, pickled carrots, snow peas, avocado chunks, and grape tomatoes over a bed of crisp greens. A choice of light dressings completed this delicious veggie bowl.

I am so proud of my girls, not just for running, but for coming up with this much healthier pre-race meal, so different from the carb-loading pasta dinners I remember from their highschool days. This is a much healthier and satisfying meal.

PS: They all finished with good times. Shannon came in third in her class. (Could it have been the quinoa?) 😉

Please vote for Smashing Idols!

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but I need you to do just that. If you like the cover of my book, Smashing Idols: Transform Your Body, Mind, and Spirit with a Plant-Based Lifestyle, please vote for it for the Cover of the Month contest on AllAuthor.com!

I’m getting closer to clinch the “Cover of the Month” contest on AllAuthor! To do that I need as much support from you guys as you can offer. Please take a short moment to vote for my book cover here:

Click to Vote!

Thanks for voting!