True Food Kitchen, coming to a location near you!

20161217_142206-truefood-kitchenWhile traveling in Atlanta, we had the pleasure of visiting a refreshingly different kind of restaurant. True Food Kitchen is dedicated to not only serving delicious and unique recipes, but their menu closely adheres to the principles of Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet. True Food Kitchen is based on the idea that food should make you feel better — not worse — and that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice taste to live a healthier lifestyle. The menu includes a variety of gluten-free, organic, vegetarian and vegan options influenced by Mediterranean, Asian, and California cuisine. The restaurant uses locally seasonal and organic whole foods whenever possible. It was nice to see a menu that is light on meat. (The meats available are “clean,” if you must have it.) Hot and cold teas, smoothies and natural juice blends are offered along with an extensive wine list, seasonal cocktails using fresh-pressed fruit and vegetable juices paired with organic spirits, plus local beers and cider.

We visited True Food Kitchen for an early afternoon brunch. From the list of teas and refreshers I chose one called “Medicine Man.” It was an iced triple-brewed black tea with cranberry, pomegranate, honey, and sea buckthorn. Very refreshing. From the extensive list of tantalizing main dishes I ordered the vegan Ancient Grains Bowl with tofu. Not really a bowl, this was more like a platter (no complaints here) and came with miso glazed sweet potato, turmeric, charred onion, snow peas, grilled Portobello, avocado and hemp seed. The portions were more than generous, and I was the last one at our table to finish eating because I did devour every delicious morsel.The prices at True Food Kitchen are moderate for upscale casual dining.

I was impressed with the cuisine and also the attention to environmentally friendly architectural detail, lighting, and décor. This truly is a green restaurant in every sense of the word. To learn more, check out their website: http://www.truefoodkitchen.com.

At the present time there are 16 True Food Kitchen’s scattered across the US, with 7 more coming soon. For my friends in the northeast, look for a new True Food Kitchen in King of Prussia, PA scheduled to open in Summer ’17, and in the Mid-Atlantic region Bethesda, MD in Spring ’17. Definitely try to find one near you… you won’t be disappointed!

 

Vegan “Chicken” Noodle Soup

20161207_185403-002-chicken-soup-1

The winter holidays are in full celebration mode! If you haven’t eaten a cookie all year, you will this month. Parties, baking with the family, snacking while enjoying in the annual Christmas movies on TV — don’t be surprised if someone in your house comes down with a cold. Did you know that eating sugar suppresses your immune system for the next four hours?  With all the added sugar we consume at this time of year, is it any wonder that flu season tags right along after the holidays?

Mom always said that chicken soup is the best medicine for a cold, and she was right. With this recipe even a vegan can get all the benefits of her age-old remedy without sacrificing a bird. It tastes just like the real thing!

Ingredients:

1 – 2 TBS. Organic coconut oil

2 carrots, chopped

1 stalk celery (including leaves), chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

6 – 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (can use frozen)

1 can organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup frozen organic corn

4 – 5 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped fine

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. sea salt

1/4 – 1/2 tsp. pepper

1 bay leaf

8 cups vegan “chicken” broth (I like Imagine brand No-Chicken Broth best)

2 tsp. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1 cup small dry pasta

Melt coconut oil in a stockpot or dutch oven. Add the chopped carrots, celery, and onion and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, salt, pepper, ginger, and curry powder and cook for another 2 -4 minutes.

Add the vegan “chicken” broth, garbanzo beans, corn, garlic, bay leaf, and Bragg’s Liquid Aminos. Turn heat to high and heat to boiling. Add the pasta. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until pasta is tender. (If not serving immediately, cook pasta less than the recommended time because it will continue to cook in the hot soup).

Makes 8 – 10 servings.

Don’t wait ’til you’re sick to enjoy this delicious soup. It will be one of your favorites!

 

 

 

If It Makes My Husband Notice, Then I’m All for It!

wellness-prioritized-blog-photo

Recently I tried a brand new line of skin care products from a brand new company, Wellness Prioritized. First let me say that I have not been paid for this review, and I did not receive any product or discount. I purchased both products at full price from Amazon.com after a friend’s recommendation.

Why the review? Because I think everyone who is interested in the quality and purity of the food they put into their body is also interested in the quality and purity of the products they put on their body. Whatever we put on our body is very efficiently absorbed by the skin, so we should try not to introduce harmful chemicals and fragrances that many skincare lines contain.

The label states that Wellness Prioritized is an all natural, organic, vegan skin care line. This caught my attention immediately… no toxins, really? I was skeptical.  The fact that it is made in an FDA approved facility, and not someone’s kitchen or garage, put my mind at ease. As someone who still gets occasional breakouts I am very particular about the products I use on my skin, and have a drawer full of rejects to prove it.

I gave both the body lotion and the body butter a one week trial. When using, I noticed that both products have a mild clean fragrance… no offensive chemical smell at all. The gentle herbal fragrance is derived from pure essential oils. Check out the ingredients in the lotion.

wellness-prioritized-ingredients-blog-photo-2

I LOVE the Wellness Prioritized Body Lotion for everything, especially my face!  I know, I was surprised that a body lotion could be used as a facial moisturizer, too, but it works! After using the lotion morning and night for just a few days, and while not wearing any makeup, my husband remarked that my skin looked so nice. He asked, “Are you doing something different? Were you out in the sun?” Wow! This is a man that doesn’t notice anything! I could come home from the salon with my hair three inches shorter and six shades lighter, and he wouldn’t say a word. If HE notices, then it works!

The body butter is a bit thicker than the lotion, so I have not tried it on my face.  For hands, heels, knees, and elbows (you know, all the rough spots) it works great. The weather here has just started to get cold. Already I’ve gotten one of those painful skin cracks on my thumb. I applied the Wellness Prioritized 100% Vegan Shea Body Butter on the crack several times a day, and it healed right over. I am going to be using the Body Butter a lot this winter!

So, my opinion: I give both these Wellness Prioritized products two thumbs up. I can’t wait to see what they add to their line in the  future!

Iris Inn Spinach Artichoke Breakfast Casserole

iris-inn-spinach-casserole

For several years my husband and I made an annual long weekend excursion to the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia. Always in Autumn so we could enjoy the gorgeous scenery dressed in stunning colors of orange, red and gold, and we were never disappointed. In mid to late October Virginia is still warm enough to enjoy outdoor fun like hiking and kayaking with only a sweater or light jacket occasionally needed.

We’ve stayed in many hotels and B&B’s on these vacations, but our favorite has always been The Iris Inn in Waynesboro. (www.irisinn.com). Built as a Bed & Breakfast (never a family home), this establishment offers everything you could want: secluded country location, yet close to many things to do and sites to see, beautiful accommodations from private rooms to individual cabins, and delicious bountiful breakfasts.

As vegetarians, breakfast at any B&B is always a challenge, however our hosts at The Iris Inn always tried to accommodate when we warned them in advance. One morning we were pleasantly surprised when the friendly innkeeper handed out recipes for the breakfast being served. Now, we usually tell people when we eat out that we are vegetarians (to relieve some of the pressure on them), but at home we follow a vegan lifestyle, so I was thrilled to have a copy of this casserole recipe that I easily veganized to enjoy at home. If you are planning to serve a brunch or take a dish to a potluck, this recipe is perfect for either occasion. It goes together quickly with only a few ingredients and is a welcome savory addition to any brunch table that even a vegan can enjoy. I hope you like it!

Ingredients:

3 – 10 oz. packages, or 1 – 32 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (you can do this overnight)

12 ounces vegan “cream cheese” ( I used Tofutti brand Better Than Cream Cheese)

1/4 cup organic butter or vegan “butter” at room temperature

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 – 6oz. jars marinated artichokes, drained

Cracked pepper

1/2 cup Vegan “Parmesan Cheese” (Search under “Recipes” to make your own)

-Place spinach in the bottom of a large greased glass baking dish. Top with chopped artichokes.

-Mix together vegan “cream cheese,” “butter,” and  almond milk. Spread this mixture on top of spinach and artichokes in the dish.

-Top with vegan parmesan and cracked pepper, to taste.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

YOUR PERSONAL SALAD BAR

   20160627_185707 salad fixins

 

You want to eat a healthy meal, but when you arrive home famished the last thing you want to do is spend the next 20 – 30 minutes preparing a fresh salad. You want to eat now! All that washing, chopping, slicing, and dicing veggies each time for a salad is time consuming. All home cooking takes time, but it’s time well spent for your health, and you are worth it — even if you’re cooking for just one person. So, before you give in to the temptation to pop some kind of prepared fast food into the microwave or open yet another can of soup, STOP! There is a more excellent way!

You probably already know that it is wise to cook once to eat twice. This smart idea can be applied to preparing fresh salads, too. You simply need a plan — a specific block of time for food preparation. It is just as easy to prepare veggies for six salads as for one. Your chosen block of time can be any time that is convenient for you, when you are not hungry — before or after work, when the kids are napping or while watching evening TV. And, don’t just stand in the kitchen in silence while you slice and dice (unless you are using this time for prayer or meditation, too). Put on some music, listen to a podcast, practice your French — make it fun!

I have seen those huge salad boxes that people make up once a week for their various salad ingredients, but honestly, most people don’t have that much space in their refrigerator — I know I don’t. I do however, have a couple of plastic relish trays with eight sections each. Each tray has a lid, so they are stackable — what a space saver! When you have your favorite salad ingredients already prepared and waiting to be thrown on top of a heaping handful of triple-washed ready-to-eat greens, eating healthy fresh salads will no longer be a chore you dread. You will be your very own raw chef at a gourmet salad bar featuring only your personal favorites (none of those icky raw onions). It’s all about you, and you are worth it!

Healthy Thymes Market, 265 Route 94 Vernon, NJ 07462. Phone: 973-209-8555

Healthy Thymes Market may have been there for 25 years, but I just discovered it on Saturday. What a treasure trove of health foods, supplements, and expert health advice all tucked away in the little town of Vernon in the Highlands of northern New Jersey! It may look small from the outside, but Healthy Thymes Market has managed to fill every inch with things you can’t find in your local grocery or drugstore, including refrigerated and frozen items. When we were there a Kombucha Demonstration was also going on, so we had a chance to sample Aqua ViTea elderberry kombucha… crisp and fizzy!

Besides all that, there is also a snackbar, The Kitchen, where you can order breakfast until noon Monday thru Friday and lunch/dinner all day any day. We decided to get our lunch at The Kitchen the day we stopped in. All items on the menu are vegetarian and can be made vegan if desired. I chose the Sweet Potato Quesadilla which consisted of a whole wheat wrap (gluten-free is available) stuffed with organic mashed sweet potato, saluted onions, spinach, and vegan mozzarella cheese (dairy cheese is an option). This was an unusual combination for a quesadilla, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was very delicious, and the cheese melted perfectly. The price, only $6.99! My husband ordered the Falafel Wrap, also $6.99: organic store-made vegan chickpea patties served with romaine lettuce, onion, tomato and tahini dressing served on a whole wheat wrap (gluten-free available). He said that it was good, but he would have liked more dressing on his. We both got cold bottled drinks with no high fructose corn syrup from the refrigerator case; strawberry lemonade for him and watermelon lemonade for me. The one downside, there is no place to sit and eat once you have purchased your meal at The Kitchen. Fortunately there were some benches by a pond across the street, and the weather was lovely for eating outdoors, so we enjoyed our healthy lunch in the sunshine.

We will certainly go back to Healthy Thymes despite the fact that it is a bit of a drive for us. I hope they add seating for The Kitchen soon. Even so, for health food shopping or a yummy and healthy takeout meal, it’s worth the trip.

Hours are: M-F 8 am – 7 pm; Sat.-Sun. 9:30 am – 5 pm

Excellent “Chicken” Salad

                      20160518_192746 (004)

This is a wonderful vegan “chicken” flavored sandwich spread that is great for school or work lunches. Packed with protein, taste, and crunch it satisfies on every level. Even if you have a nut allergy, you can still enjoy this scrumptious “chicken” salad with no fear– simply substitute raw cauliflower for the nuts.

 

                      20160517_153017

 

Ingredients:

1- 15 oz. can chick peas, rinse and drain

1 handful each of almonds and cashews OR an equal amount of chopped raw cauliflower.

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped

4 – 5 Tbsp. Vegenaise

2 tsp. prepared mustard

1/8 – 1/4  tsp. ginger powder

1/8 – 1/4 tsp. Adobo seasoning salt

pepper to taste

1 tsp. lemon juice (optional)

Method:

Chop scallions and celery (and cauliflower if using) — set aside.

Blend remaining ingredients in food processor ( blend only enough to chop — you want it kind of chunky, not creamy).

Place blended ingredients in a bowl and add chopped scallions and celery (and cauliflower). Mix well with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.

Makes 6 – 8 great sandwiches!

Turmeric Pickled Cauliflower*

Turmeric, and its active component curcumin, has been used for thousands of years in India, and recent research confirms that its anti-inflammatory properties can be helpful in the treatment of many conditions. Turmeric also gives food a warm golden color.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables belong to the Brassica genus and include: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels spouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, radishes, rutabaga, turnips, watercress, and wasabi. These plant powerhouses contain potent antioxidants which may reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases. Their anti-viral, anti-bacterial effects have been shown to fight illness and inhibit tumor growth.

This simple recipe incorporates both of these natural disease fighters. Tart and tangy, serve it cold as a salad topper or as a colorful addition to a relish tray.

20160318_183658

Ingredients:

1 large head cauliflower

1 cup white vinegar

1 1/2 cups warm water

3 TBS. Sugar (cuts the acid)

2 TBS. Kosher salt

2 tsp. ground turmeric

1 dry bay leaf

1 Mason jar

Disinfect Mason jar before beginning by placing it in a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds.

Cut cauliflower into small florets that are evenly sized. Place florets into Mason jar and set aside.

In a small pot, add turmeric, bay leaf, salt, and sugar. Once dry ingredients are combined, add water and vinegar, creating a brine.

Bring your brine to a boil over high heat. Boil for 2 minutes.

Pour boiling brine into your Mason jar to cover cauliflower.

Seal and refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.

20160321_083322 pickled cauliflower

 

*Courtesy of Ellie Kahlon and Matthew Weisberg, Novo Mediterranean Restaurant, 37 Chestnut St., Ridgewood, NJ. 201-444-4910; novomediterranean.com

 

 

 

Beauty of Sprouts

   It’s been some time since I’ve posted a restaurant review, but while vacationing in Florida we came upon a new restaurant that simply must be recognized. If you try to eat vegan, or even just healthfully, then you know how difficult it is to find a restaurant that meets your needs. Even vegetarian restaurants bury their entrées in cheese. Eating a vegan meal when out on the town can stretch your creativity to the limit.

   Today we were fortunate enough to stumble upon Beauty of Sprouts, 1474 Fruitville Rd. Sarasota, FL; 941-350-8449. Chef  Rano has worked at Rockefeller Center and is an award winning chef in her native Russia. Her menu features all vegan, mostly raw, dishes that are lovingly prepared and artfully presented at reasonable prices. Fresh healthy sprouts are the highlight of each dish.

   As an appetizer, we ordered guacamole with spicy dehydrated crackers. The portion was generous enough for two hungry people to nosh on while we waited for our entrées, and we devoured it all. My husband also ordered the mildly seasoned, sprouted hot mung bean soup, because he eats likes to eat soup whenever he can get it. As an entrée he had the vegan burrito, which was wrapped in a chard leaf instead of a flour tortilla. He liked the filling of fresh veggies and side of salsa, but left the chard leaf on the plate — just his personal preference. I had the raw vegan Pad Thai. It was scrumptious! A mountain of thinly sliced cabbage and carrots, kelp noodles and cashews all served in a tangy sauce. I loved it! Several beverage options are on the menu, including some unique teas and homemade Kombucha, but as we were feeling dehydrated after a day of vacation fun we chose the restaurant’s own purified, ionized, alkalinized water to drink. We topped off our meal with a lovely raw lavender crème brulee for dessert. The serving was deceivingly small but filling, and you don’t want to miss this sweet taste of heaven!

   If you like chatting with the friendly chef, clean bright surroundings, and nutritious food, then you will surely enjoy Beauty of Sprouts. This was definitely the healthiest meal of our entire  vacation. We like to eat nutritionally dense food and also to get the most nutrition for our dollar. Beauty of Sprouts meets both criteria. If you ever want a delicious, guilt-free meal in Sarasota, then this is the place for you!

Vegetable Broth

We’re still in the throes of winter here in the great northeast. Most years I take advantage of a nice cold garage as bonus storage for onions, squash, and root vegetables during the cold winter months. What a surprise I had yesterday when I went to the garage shelf for an onion and discovered that all the vegetables I had stored there had frozen solid.  This is the first time that has ever happened!  Well, I just refused to even think about throwing everything away — what a waste that would be! Instead, I decided to make vegetable broth with my rock-hard stash of fresh frozen, vitamin-packed, organic ice-veggies.  These are the ones I used.WIN_20150303_132932    I’ve made vegetable broth before, and like soup, it never comes out the same way twice.  The flavor depends on the type of vegetables and seasonings you use.  Usually, I make broth when there are more veggies in the fridge than I will be able to use before they die, or when I have collected a varied supply in the freezer from food prep leftovers. This was a rather unusual mixture of flavors, but “waste not want not,” as the saying goes. Some vegetables, namely the cruciferous variety (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower), have a strong flavor and will overpower the broth if you use too much.  Fortunately, only the outer inch of the cabbage was frozen, so that and the core are all I used in this broth. I peeled the small pumpkins easily with a regular vegetable peeler, seeded them and cut them into large pieces because I  wanted them stay solid, not cook down to a puree. You should keep all the vegetable chunks rather large — at least over one inch.

In a large stockpot, to these vegetables I added 3 stalks of celery, 6 sliced cloves of garlic and these spices: 1 Tbsp. parsley, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and one bay leaf. You may use whatever seasonings you prefer and adjust the amount to your liking (this isn’t a precise science), but I have found that you can’t go wrong with these basic seasonings.    WIN_20150303_141051

Add enough water to cover the vegetables (I used about a gallon), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour. Cool and strain. Discard vegetables. You may freeze the stock in  small batches or refrigerate up to one week.

This homemade organic vegetable stock will add delicious flavor to soups, stews, or rice and other grains.  If you’ve been buying  vegetable broth then you know what a money-saver it is to make your own, and what a wise way to use what otherwise would just be thrown away. Waste not, want not!