Category Archives: Fruit

Fast & Easy Garlic Dill Pickled Green Tomatoes – #TastyThursday

PicklesThe last few #TastyThursday and #ScrumptiousSunday posts have been centered around unripened green tomatoes, and today I wanted to bring one last amazing recipe using what many people find useless.  How about some garlic dill pickled green tomatoes?   For some reason I find that some folks are intimidated by doing home pickling – when there’s really not much effort in it!   Home pickling is not only more tasty, but it’s incredibly cheap as well.  When it comes to picking anything – the only limits are the lack of imagination!

If you’re anything like me, your taste buds do backflips for pickled veggies!   The most tedious  aspect to any pickling process is waiting, but who says you have to wait?  This recipe (which you can use most anything other than green tomatoes) will give you ready to eat pickled green tomatoes in under an hour…or a few hours if you want them chilled.

  • 12-18 green tomatoes (about 3 lbs)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons pickling salt
  • 4 heads fresh dill or 4 teaspoons dill seeds
  • 4 small cloves garlic
  • 4 pint size canning jars

Prepare canning jars.  Slice all the green tomatoes in half.  Combine vinegar, water, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.

Place 1 head fresh dill or 1 tsp dill seeds and 1 clove garlic into each jar; pack in green tomatoes. Pour boiling vinegar mixture over green tomatoes to within 1/2 inch of rim (head space).  Process for 15 minutes.

Garlic may turn blue or green in the jar. Nothing to be alarmed about, it is only the effect of the acid on the natural pigments in the garlic.

That’s it!

Tip:  For more garlic flavor, add an extra clove!   For a little kick, add some chilli peppers.  We added jalapeño and banana peppers.

Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well

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Fried Green Tomatoes – #ScrumptiousSunday

IMG_8031

Add some homemade spicy-mayo and artificial bacon bits to your fried green tomatoes to kick it up a notch!

You say tomato, I say tomahto…we both say delicious!   This past #TastyThursday I mentioned our abundance of ripe and green tomatoes in our last harvest from the garden, and I said I would post some more delicious recipes using green tomatoes such as Green Tomato Bread recipe.  Today I give you Fried Green Tomatoes!

There’s a debate about where fried green tomatoes actually originated from.   Some say the South and others say the Midwest.  When my German/Russian family immigrated to the United States, the majority of them settled in the Midwestern states…Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois.  I grew up on many delicious dishes such as Fried Green Tomatoes, each recipe carrying with it a long story of where/who it originated from.  Being that most American hadn’t even heard of the idea of battering such un-ripened fruit and frying it in a well seasoned cast iron skillet until the 1991 classic film, Fried Green Tomatoes, the Midwest theory really pans out.  I also did some in-depth online reading, and I hate to burst the bubble of some, but Fried Green Tomatoes are by no means a Southern dish…the accurate debate is whether they’re originally Midwestern or Northeastern!   But enough of about where they came from as we can all agree that they should be enjoyed by everyone!

For the Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 6 – 8 firm green tomatoes
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 cups of almond or soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Slice green tomatoes to medium thickness and sprinkle lightly with salt, let stand for 5 minutes.

Prepare your dredging bowls:  In the first bowl, add almond or soy milk.  In a second bowl combine and mix all-purpose flour, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and black pepper.   In a third bowl, add bread crumbs.

Dredging Method

  1. Dip each green tomato slice in the almond or soy milk.
  2. Coat it in all-purpose flour mixture.
  3. Dip once again in the almond or soy milk.
  4. Coat in seasoned bread crumbs.
  5. Gently stack on a plate and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high.  To test, drop a tiny piece of bread crumb in oil.  It should immediately crackle when ready.

With tongs gently place each dredged green tomato slice in hot oil.  Be sure not overcrowd.  Fry 3-5 minutes on each side or until golden and crispy.   When done, remove green tomatoes and gently place on a paper towel lined plate.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

Spicy-Mayo Sauce

  • 3/4 cup Vegenaise®
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder

Whisk all ingredients together with a fork in a small bowl.  Drizzle over fried green tomatoes.  For some added flare, sprinkle with artificial bacon bits!

Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well

Green Tomato Bread – #TastyThursday

A perfect and unique fall bread - great for brunch or a quick breakfast with coffee or tea.  These tasty loaves make great gifts for friends and neighbors too!

A perfect and unique fall bread – great for brunch or a quick breakfast with coffee or tea. These tasty loaves make great gifts for friends and neighbors too!

This year we’ve been kissed by the tomato Gods!   We’ve probably had over 250 ripened tomatoes from our garden and we just did our last harvest this week.   Given that fall is making itself known – we had over 3 dozen green tomatoes which needed clipped as the days are already too short (lack of sun) and the nighttime temperatures have noticeably cooled to temperatures that tomato plants are not fond of.

There’s no need to fret over an abundance of green tomatoes though!   Green tomatoes (which are not fully ripened) can be just a delicious as the bright red fruit, given that you know what to do with them.  So don’t worry about paper bagging your green tomatoes or God forbid, throwing them out…as I will dedicate the next few #TastyThursday and #ScrumptiousSunday posts to some of our favorite recipes using green tomatoes.  Today I give you: Green Tomato Bread!   This delicious bread has the familiarity of zucchini or banana bread, with the unique and tasty cut from the high acidity of green tomatoes.  Oh, and it’s easy!  Bon Appétit!

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup banana, purée
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups finely chopped green tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the first 6 ingredients in large bowl.  Make a well in the center of mixture.

Combine the banana, oil, and vanilla; stir well.   Add to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened.  Fold in the tomatoes and pecans.

Spoon the batter into 2 greased and floured 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on wire rack.  Enjoy!

Live Well – Eat Well – Be Well

Tasty Thursday – Chocolate Avocado Cake

Rich, dense, & creamy - the perfect cake!

Rich, dense, & creamy – the perfect cake!

I’m sure a few you have one eyebrow raised as you read the name of this recipe with skepticism.   Let me reassure you, this is to die for!

Now don’t get me wrong…this is not a low-calorie cake by any means, but it’s vegan!  And we need to remember that we’re allowed to indulge in the incredibly sweeter things in life, in moderation of course.

The unique thing about this cake is that avocado is not only baked into the chocolate cake itself, but it’s also one of the main ingredients in the rich buttercream frosting as well.  I will tell you that the key to making this cake a success is fully RIPE avocados!   If you’re avocados are not yet ripe, be sure to put them in a paper bag and wait…patience is everything!

For the Cake

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond oil (vegetable oil would work too)
  • 1/2 cup soft avocado, well mashed (about 1 medium avocado)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease and flour two 8 or 9-inch rounds and set aside.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar.  Set that aside too.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the super mashed avocado.  Add sugar into the wet mix and stir.  Mix the wet with the dry all at once, and beat with a whisk (by hand) until smooth.

Pour batter into a greased cake tins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting with avocado buttercream.

For the Avocado Buttercream Frosting

  • 8 ounces of avocado meat (about 2 small to medium, very ripe avocados)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 pound sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel and pit the soft avocados.  Again, it’s important to use the ripest avocados you can get your hands on!  If the avocados have brown spots in the meat, avoid those spots when you scoop the meat into the bowl.

Place the avocado meat into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.  Add lemon juice and whisk the avocado on medium speed, until slightly lightened in color and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat.  Add vanilla extract until combined.

Garnish with some fresh fruit, I used strawberries.  If not using right away, store in the refrigerator.  Don’t worry.  It won’t turn brown!

 

 

 

The Top 5 Reasons I Went Vegan

Since I made the transition from a vegetarian diet to a full-fledged vegan lifestyle, I often get a lot of questions (and criticism) about why.   In all honesty, there’s countless reasons I could offer friends, family, and even strangers about why I made this life changing decision.   There are a lot of myths to veganism which I will eventually address in a future post, but today I want to share the top 5 reasons why I went vegan.

1. HEALTH

When I was around 23-years old, my health began to take a turn for the worse.   I began a heavy regimen of medications, visits to specialists, countless tests and medical procedures, etc.  At 25-years old my pulse jumped one evening to 220+ bpm as my heart went into Supraventricular tachycardia (SVT).  Paramedics were called on my behalf and I was defibrillated three times while conscious.  Amazingly, that still didn’t correct the problem.   I would go through over two-dozen more episodes of SVT before I underwent a cardiac ablation surgery.   Still, my health worsened.   By 28-years old I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and began taking over 18 prescription medications multiple times a day.   All of this, many other conditions including my chronic back pain left me in a mess.   I was passionately and stubbornly in love with every type of meat, dairy, and seafood…yet veganism was not something that ever crossed my mind.

Finally in 2012, broken and desperate, I decided to try a vegetarian diet.   My world and health began to change almost immediately.   More fascinated on how something so simple could offer so much resolution to my health crisis, I decided to make a major life decision.  I decided to become a vegan.  Since 2012 I have been taken off all cardiac medications, now only taking two blood pressure medications.   I went from injecting two different types of insulin, to only taking an oral diabetes medication, to being taken off ALL diabetes medications.  On September 1, 2013 I will mark 9-months free of any diabetes medications.  I no longer take cholesterol medications.   In fact, my LDL and HDL cholesterol levels, as well as my triglycerides levels couldn’t be more perfect!  SInce going vegetarian (then vegan), I have nearly lost 70 lbs.!   I no longer need to use medicated shampoo for my irritated and often times, painful psoriasis on the back of my scalp.  My concentration and attention to detail is more clear than it has ever been, I didn’t even realize that my brain was living in a fog…I thought that was normal.  This list could literally go on and on, but these are some of the highlights.

2. COMPASSION

I’m an animal lover…always have been and always will be!  Far beyond I can even remember, I was absolutely awestruck, in love, and fascinated by animals.   As I was growing up, my passion, love, and respect for animals only grew…even though I was an omnivore.  I remember coming into contacts with vegetarians (and vegans, as rare as they were) in my high school years and always found their points of view very convincing and eye opening, yet not enough to tear me away from my beloved carne asada, chorizo, beef hamburgers…let alone sushi, lobster, or fresh caught trout (yes, I used to be quite the angler).  But the more I grew, the more I learned.

I began to look into the source of my meats, dairy, seafood, and even my clothing.   What I discovered was horrifying.  Yet I was somehow convinced that going vegetarian (or vegan for that matter) would not change the industry, so I went on with life with a “blind eye”.   Eventually my conscience (and health) started to catch up with me.  As a compulsive seeker of truth, turning a blind eye was becoming more and more difficult to carry out.  Eventually I would have to practically inhale anything that was meat and make sure that I didn’t think about the source while doing so.   This became exhausting, and my conscience started to catch up with me.   As a victim of gun violence and an advocate for gun-control legislation, I have often spoke about how it doesn’t matter how many thousands of innocent children die by gunshots in our country , but the fact that a single child dies by a gunshot….for one is far too many.  I began to equate the same reasoning to the horrors in the inhumane and ungodly treatment of animals we raise for food, milk, and products.

Enough was enough.  I couldn’t deny the truth any longer.   How can I profess my love for animals and my opposition to their abuse, neglect, and murder…yet scarf down a steak?  I was invalidating and contradicting my own personal convictions for ease and convenience.  I was an accessory to mass murder.  Many documentaries such as Food, Inc. and Vegucated helped change my life!

3. ENVIRONMENT

Climate change is no longer a myth.   It’s a fact.   And the data is scary.  Each and every one of us has a moral obligation and responsibility to discuss the global crisis.  The studies and data are bone-chilling and scary.

A recent United Nations report concluded that a global shift toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat the worst effects of climate change.  And the U.N. is not alone in its analysis.  A staggering 51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture, according to a report published by the Worldwatch Institute.  Researchers at the University of Chicago concluded that switching from a standard American diet to a vegan diet is more effective in the fight against climate change than switching from a standard American car to a hybrid. And a German study conducted in 2008 concluded that a meat-eater’s diet is responsible for more than seven times as much greenhouse-gas emissions as a vegan’s diet is.  What most people don’t think about is the resources and energy (as well as pollution) it takes to manufacture meat…from growing feed for the animals, to processing their waste, consumption of water for the animals and growth of their food, pesticides, processing plants, rendering plants, rendering waste…the list goes on.   This is something the meat and dairy industry don’t want you to know.

And for the seafood so many love?   Meet overfishing:

  • 52% of fish stocks are fully exploited
  • 20% are moderately exploited
  • 17% are overexploited
  • 7% are depleted
  • 1% is recovering from depletion

One does not need to be a scientist to comprehend how this affects oceans and ocean life.  And like meat, there is the alarming environmental repercussions which come from seafood manufacturing and processing.

4. NATURAL

There’s no denying that vegan lifestyle is au naturel…if you take the natural way.   I’ll be the first to admit that natural veganism is something you strive for.  As with anything in life, there are a lot of unnatural and unhealthy ways to go about things, and veganism is not an exception.   However, with the right motives and drive, veganism offers a simplicity in being more natural as well as a burning desire to perfect the goal in becoming more natural and whole.   You begin to read every label…and for myself and many vegans, we put the products back on the shelf when we come across ingredients which contain ingredients we can’t pronounce…and of course, anything that is made from animal products (or has been tested on animals) goes back as well.

Learning to go natural is an organic and fresh experience.  It simply makes your soul feel good.   I shy away from overpriced and unhealthy “fake meats.”  Plus, meat just freaks me out, so why would I buy something that looks and tastes like meat.   I have fallen in love with growing our own food and buying from local farmers, makers, and manufacturers who believe and practice the same ethics as I do (or strive to), from people who embrace what this compassionate lifestyle provides us.

One of the many myths is this “diet” is expensive.   This lifestyle is remarkably inexpensive.  To my last calculation, our grocery bill has been cut by close to 65%.  This percentage doesn’t include the endless medication and medical appointment copays.  But it’s not really about the money.   It’s all about the feeling of fulfilment which is nothing less than an incredibly spiritual bond.   It may sound so cliché to spout that I’m a vegan for life, but so be it if it is.  I could never go back.  I would never go back.

IMG_76795. YUMMY

Do you know how many varieties and species of fruits and vegetables grow in the world?   What if I told you there we’re over 7,500 different types of apples alone which grow throughout the world?   And that’s just apples!  The selection of other fruits and vegetables is unthinkable.

Vegan cooking is fun, challenging, and delicious!  Another big myth about being a vegan is that our food is boring, bland, or lacking vital nutrients.   That’s just not true!  And as delicious as fresh fruits & vegetables, the food we eat does go far beyond that!

Vegan chefs took home the trophy at the 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational with a nondairy cheese winner, and vegan bakers have dominated the butter-and-egg fest that is Cupcake Wars…twice!  Chloe Coscarelli and Doron Petersan both earned top honors with nondairy creations.   In fact the best Macaroni & Cheese I’ve ever had is made fresh at Washington, DC’s Everlasting Life Cafe, an all vegan and 100% gluten-free soul food restaurant!   Yes…vegan soul food!  Since going vegan, I have been exposed to so many new and different vegetables, fruits, nuts, and other foods.   Your creativity and imagination are the only limit when it comes to preparing incredibly delicious vegan dishes!

Fig Galette – #TastyThursday

A very simple vegan Fig Galette

A very simple vegan Fig Galette

It’s fig season!

Get figgy with it!

Tis the season to be figgy!

British cookery writer Elizabeth David once said, ““To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.” 

I love figs!   I love eating fig off the tree!!  I love fig preserves, seared figs, fig pastries, figs in salads, poached figs, and so on.  Here’s one of my favorite and very simple fig recipes!   Bon Appétit!

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 4 Tablespoons ice water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mission figs (tips cut off and discarded quartered)
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 Tbsp sugar

For the crust:  Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or your clean hands) cut in the shortening to the mixture until coarse crumbly dough is formed.

In another small bowl, combine the ice water with the vinegar.  Drizzle 1/3 over the water over the flour mixture and stir.  Drizzle another 1/3 over the mixture and stir again.  Drizzle the rest of the water over the dough and form a soft dough ball.   If the mixture hasn’t come together, add another tablespoon of ice water. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon of flour.  Pat dough into  disc shape.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Let sit in the fridge for an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Roll out dough to a 14-inch diameter round of even thickness. Place on a parchment or lined, rimmed baking dish.

Spread marmalade on the rolled out dough, leaving a 2-inch border along the edges. Arrange the quartered figs in a circular pattern, again leaving a 2-inch border.  Sprinkle sugar over the figs.

Fold the 2-inch bordered edge of the crust over the figs, pleating the crust.

Place in the middle rack of the oven. Bake at 375°F for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is lightly browned and the fruit is bubbly.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Ginger Crumble – #TastyThursday

A few weeks ago I had a hardcore craving for something sweet with rhubarb.   A recipe from Vegan Pie In The Sky fixed that for me with this very delicious, vegan pie!   Be sure to have a Tasty Thursday with this awesome recipe!

strawberries-rhubarb

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening
  • 4 Tablespoons ice water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

For the Filling:

  • 2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cute into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 3 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, cut into 1/2 in chunks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/3 cup Earth Balance (or other vegan butter)
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The perfect pie for a sweet, summer evening.

For the crust:  Combine the sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter (or your clean hands) cut in the shortening to the mixture until  coarse crumbly dough as formed.

In another small bowl, combine the ice water with the vinegar. Drizzle 1/3 over the water over the flour mixture and stir. Drizzle another 1/3 over the mixture and stir again. Drizzle the rest of the water over the dough and form a soft dough ball. If the mixture hasn’t come together, add another tablespoon of ice water. If it’s too wet, add a tablespoon of flour. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper. Let sit in the fridge for an hour.

For the filling / crumb: Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside. For the crumb, combine the flour, sugar, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Drizzle in the butter with one hand and swish around the mixture with a spatula with your other hand. Mix until large crumbles form.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll the dough out on floured parchment paper (this will help you transfer it to your pie to the pan). You’ll want to make a 12″ circle with the dough. Quickly flip the dough into your pie pan and remove parchment paper. Add filling over dough and then spread the crumble evenly over the top.

Cover with aluminum foil and poke a few holes to let steam escape. Bake for 20 minutes and then lower heat down to 350 degrees. Remove foil and let cook for another 30 minutes or until the topping has browned.

Let cool for 20 minutes before serving.  Serve with your favorite vegan whipped topping or ice cream!

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